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Don't forget about your family while serving our Air Force

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Don't forget about your family while serving our Air Force.

Over my 25 years of active duty service I have been truly graced to be able to raise seven children.

My wife, Nicole and I have been through many of life's challenges raising our seven children, ages six through 24, as a blended family.

Four girls and three boys are a lot of responsibility and I am very thankful to my Air Force which provides me the means to raise a large family.

Nicole and I are happy to say that the Air Force way of life has allowed Nicole to be a stay-at-home mother. This has been awesome for me personally.

I can go to work at "O'dark thirty", I can stay at work all hours of the night, I can come in on weekends, and I can deploy and go temporary duty assignments without hesitation. I ask myself though, at what cost am I able to have this luxury to come and go as I serve our Air Force mission?

This luxury does come at a cost however, and that cost is, Nicole didn't have her husband at home because of four deployments, nor did the children have their father home while I served our Air Force.

I have missed special events such as Holy Communion, Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, birthdays, game-winning three point shots in high school basketball games, personal record times in cross country, teenage dating challenges, celebrations of good grades, discipline of bad grades, and the opportunity to bathe and comfort the children when they were first born.

So don't forget about your family while serving our Air Force. I know many active duty mothers and fathers can relate.

You and I are serving in an all-volunteer Air Force and some might say, "Well, you've made these choices and these decisions to continue to serve at different points throughout your career."  You are correct, I have made these choices, but I don't forget about my family while serving our Air Force.

I make a conscious effort to tell Nicole, "I love you," each and every day when I wake up and when I go to sleep.

I make a conscious effort to hug and tell my kids "I love you." Yes I have made my choice to serve and I have made my choice to say "I love you."

The Air Force doesn't have an owner's manual on "How to not forget about your family." Some ideas to stay engaged when deployed or TDY are as follows: send books by video or audio tape, letters, cards, emails or just make phone calls.

I have served the Air Force for a long time, but there is a group of people that I will serve longer - and they are my family.