Home for the holidays... but not for long

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Naomi Griego
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
The life of a military member can have a unique set of circumstances which can test the resiliency of a family, especially if one of them is gone during the holidays.

Those who are in the military, have a family member in the military, or know someone in the military, probably know all too well what it means to hear the word "deployment."

Master Sgt. Matthew Nolan, 23rd Special Tactics Squadron client systems technician, not only knows what it's like to deploy, but he also supports other warfighters who constantly deploy.

"Leaving your children is never easy," Nolan said. "But as long as they know I'm safe and we can communicate, I can still be an active part of their lives."

Nolan's daughters are 16 and 18 years old now and have watched their dad deploy four times to places like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

"It's always hard being without my dad for long periods of time, but I understand it's part of his job," said Nolan's daughter. "Up until his deployment when I was 7, I didn't really pay attention to what he did. I just knew he wore a blue or camouflage uniform every day and he was going to help get the bad guys to keep me and my family safe."

One of the combat controllers Nolan works with is Tech. Sgt. Adam Cooper, 23rd STS. Cooper has a 2-year-old daughter who has also witnessed her father deploy.

"She's not old enough to comprehend where I'm at, she just knows if I'm here or not," Cooper said. "When I'm deployed, I'm able to call and video chat with her and watch her grow, so that helps a lot."

Air Commandos have a high operations tempo which can include almost constant deployments. They rely on each other to care for the family members who stay behind when they deploy.

"When deployed, the unit contacts spouses to see if they need any help, whether their lawn needs to be mowed, or if they need something fixed," Nolan said. "We take care of one another."

This year, Cooper will be spending the holidays at home.

"In my 15 years in the Air Force, I've only been home for Christmas six times," he said.