Ohio National Guard Families are made up of very special people. They serve their country in a way that often goes unnoticed. The sacrifice they make for the United States of America is often times painful. While their Airmen or Soldier is serving away from home, their daily struggles of life go on. They make it possible for us to be “Always Ready, Always There.” They did not take a vow to give their life in defense of their country, but they give permission for us to take their loved ones away from them in order to keep this country free. I believe that makes them members of our Ohio National Guard. They absolutely serve beside us.
I recently attended the Air National Guard Senior Leaders Conference in Atlanta. One morning, we were briefed by Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff. The last message he passed to us was that our No. 1 priority is to ensure that every one of our Airmen is fully trained and equipped to go to war, but also to ensure that our families are taken care of while their loved ones are serving abroad. We must not fail at this. In the National Guard it is more of a challenge, because our Military Families sometimes live hundreds of miles from their service member’s place of duty. Our Family Readiness managers, supported by volunteers, do a fantastic job of ensuring that our families have resources available to them when they are in need.
April is also the Month of the Military Child. Our children grow up knowing mom or dad isn’t going to be at holidays and other special occasions. They get used to the fact that there are weekends away from home and many times when their military parents are going to miss sporting events and other activities they participate in. The amazing thing about that is military children are more likely to join our National Guard because they see how fulfilling it is for their parents. I am encouraging my children to join because I know it is a safe place for them to be, and the educational benefits and skills they will learn give them opportunity to excel for the rest of their lives.
Denise and I were married in August 2000. Little did we know that our lives were going to change a little over a year later, on 9/11. We had our first set of twins, Kayla and Garrett, on Aug. 19, 2002. When I deployed in 2005, Denise was pregnant with our second set of twins, Matthew and Carson. Denise was a stay-at-home mom and all her family was in New York. She had a couple of 2-year-olds running around while pregnant with two more and I was gone. There is no doubt about who the hero is in our family. I couldn’t do this without her.
I want to end this with a salute and thank you to all of our military family members for their dedicated service to this country. I joked at our statewide chiefs recognition dinner earlier this year that we should come up with uniforms for our spouses. What I was getting at is that I wish there was some way to truly recognize our family members for what they do and what they allow us to do. I do believe this is what makes our country the best place in the world to live.