The Time of Year for the Air Force Family

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- The Air Force has proclaimed this year, from July 2009 to July 2010, to be the Year of the Air Force Family. It's a great idea that emphasizes the importance of families to the success of the Air Force mission, and it also gives us a chance to see all the great programs and opportunities available for families throughout the Air Force. As I've come to find out over the past five and a half months, if you or your family needs something, there's a program or a person that can help!

But when the weather turns chilly and a little gloomy, when the holidays are upon us, when Christmas music fills the air and holiday celebrations and parties are seemingly endless, this season reminds me that this is the time of year of the Air Force family.

Consider the Airmen you interact with everyday on and off duty. These folks make up your Air Force family--these are coworkers, wingmen and friends who really make this assignment what it is for you. This is a family just as strong, just as important and just as needy as the family you come home to every night or the family you call or chat with whenever you find the time. This is a family that is every bit as committed to your success and your well-being as your biological family. And this is a family that needs you.

Your Air Force family is a strong one, always there, always mentoring and always supporting. When we say the Airman's Creed, we say, "I will never leave an Airman behind." Those Airmen we will not leave behind make up our Air Force family, and it's important to make sure we don't leave any Airman behind during this time of year. As you take time to celebrate the holidays in whatever way you celebrate them, do not allow a member of your Air Force family to drift too far away from you and the rest of his or her support system. Take time to shake a hand, pat a back or give a word of encouragement, and let the rest of your Air Force family know how important they are to you. Then let them know you are here for them.

In this family, there is no problem, challenge or conflict that can't be made better by sharing it with one another. Please take the time to let your family know you are there for them. And please take the time to share your problems and your challenges with others. We are your family and we can help. That's true every day, but even more so during this special time of year.