Honoring those who serve those who serve

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Andrew Muser
  • 4th Civil Engineer Squadron commander
 It was a chilly day in January 2010 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when the 4th Mission Support Group commander from Seymour Johnson called to congratulate me on being selected to command the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron. I was four months into a six-month deployment and was ecstatic about the opportunity to command at Seymour Johnson. His next words were, "...and don't unpack your deployment bags, because you'll be deploying with your squadron in August right after you arrive." My heart stopped. My thoughts went immediately to my wife Jennifer and our beautiful children. How do I tell them that we will spend another Thanksgiving and Christmas apart? How do I tell three of our kids that I will miss their birthday for a second year in a row?

In reality, what we faced was no different than what thousands of military families have done before us and what thousands will continue to be called upon to do. Serving in the military is a family team sport and it's not for the weak at heart, yet so often it is the military member who is in the headlines while the family fades into the background gearing themselves up for the next time of extended separation. The military member, although also affected by the family separation, has the opportunity to see different parts of the world and accomplish exciting work directly contributing to successful military operations. The spouse and children however, are often left with the same unchanging scenery: a house to manage, grass to mow, diapers to change, a checkbook to balance, pets to feed (and kids too!), soccer practice, games to attend, and don't forget the car that always breaks a week after the military member deploys!

The military focuses on families because we are really good at keeping them apart. We are all familiar with the theme "Readiness never takes a day off." Whether it is deployments, exercises, inspection preparation, working after-hours, weekend stand-by calls or professional military education, there seems to be a never-ending stream of events to try the patience of our spouses and children. It is the strength and service of these same spouses and children that make us strong; because a strong country is made up of strong families ... strong families that are committed to serving a cause bigger then themselves. As Theodore Roosevelt wrote, "We in America can attain our great destiny only by service ... Our service must be the service of deeds."

In closing, to the civilian spouses, children and family members out there diligently serving at home while your military spouse is deployed, TDY, or is simply working extra hours because of mission requirements, THANK YOU! It is because of your love and dedication that your spouse can honorably serve their country the way they do. We must always remember and honor the families of military members who have or are still serving this great country.