Families are our best wingmen

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Smietana
  • 1st SOMSG commander
The Air Force has always had the wingman concept. It reflects the ultimate confidence in our fellow Airmen. We trust each other, quite literally, with our lives. Over the last few years, the Air Force has extended the concept to taking care of our wingmen during every day routine operations - both on and off duty. 

That means we take care of each other, have each other's backs and support each other when times are tough. 

I believe families are most times our best wingmen. Those of us who are lucky enough to have them, whether they're spouses, children, step-children or parents, know they certainly provide us support and motivation to do our best. They watch out for our well-being, motivate us when we're down and focus our efforts on what's really important. 

Most families didn't sign up to be in the Air Force, but nonetheless understand and embrace the life. The long hours, exercises, night operations, short notice deployments, the uncertainty of having your spouse in harm's way, the moving and changing schools and sacrificing their careers for their spouses. I imagine most spouses didn't think Air Force life would be an all-consuming, 24 hour a day calling, which it is. 

The contributions of families are recognized and appreciated by Air Force senior leaders and by the leadership here at Hurlburt Field. 

The 1st Special Operations Wing's second Aim Point, "taking best care of our wingmen, families and resources," doesn't forget family. The wing has placed a lot of emphasis on supporting families. The Airman & Family Readiness Center provides many programs and outlets for spouses; the Commando Connection and Supporting Our Spouses orientations help families make the transition to Hurlburt easier. The base recently established the "Supporting our Families" corner on the Hurlburt public Web site which consolidates all community calendars and community information in one location. Some squadrons have spouses' clubs in addition to the Hurlburt Spouses Club. 

Many of our Services programs focus on families and children - outdoor recreation, bowling, golfing for kids, youth sports, just to name a few - so the family wingmen have outlets as well. 

Our Child Development Center is a world-class operation, and it targets care to families that need it most. This week, we opened a CDC annex which will provide much needed additional care. 

The Installation Excellence Award money the base won will be put toward building a new bath house at the marina for all families to enjoy. The wing also recently celebrated a family day which coincided with a long weekend. It was a nice break, and it gave families time to see up close what their spouses do every day. What kind of private company would provide all that support? 

Over the past year, the wing also instituted monthly hangar homecomings to celebrate the return of our deployed Airmen. I've attended every one of these homecomings, and each one has touched my heart and motivated me. It gives extra meaning to why we serve. The reaction of family members when they greet their loved ones is something special for everyone involved. It's another way Hurlburt is saying thanks to families. 

When you look at everything the base provides, we do offer a lot to support families. But rest assured we're always looking for ways to continuously improve and add to our programs and services. 

We've often heard or seen the phrase "Air Force Spouse - the toughest job in the Air Force." There's a lot of truth to that. Lots of sacrifice, no additional pay and little thanks - this extends to all family members. 

I'd like all Hurlburt families to know they truly are appreciated. they're an integral part of our Air Force and Air Commando Team. They are certainly our best wingmen. 

Thank you.