The Air Force Family Benefit

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Scott Hilmes
  • 22nd Medical Support Squadron
This commentary is dedicated to the Air Force family. The men and women we've had the honor and privilege to serve alongside during our careers. I often hear Airmen discuss their military benefits; free medical coverage, opportunity for travel, education, 20 year retirement and more. However, how about our "Family Benefit;" the family and friends whose paths we cross along the way during our Air Force careers. The Air Force family is a force multiplier, 320,000 strong, plus family members who serve as the foundation of our immediate family. Our Air Force families are the Airmen working in the next cubicle, living next door or serving as our wingmen at work or play. 

It is our Air Force family who provides the daily support, a shoulder to lean on, assistance when we're down and help for our families when we're serving temporary duty assignments or deployed. Who hasn't faced an obstacle at some point in his career that was overcome without the assistance of an Air Force family member? It's your Air Force family that is waiting to greet you at your next duty location and watches your children and pets when the packers are boxing your personal belongings. It's the same family that has welcomed my family and I to eight different assignments, made us feel welcome with cookies and cakes, taken us under their wings and familiarized us with the local community. My Air Force family was there for me at Offutt Air Force Base when I deployed to Saudi Arabia, assisting my wife and children with household chores and checking in to make sure they were being cared for. That family was there for me at Keesler Air Force Base during hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Once again it was there when I deployed to Iraq and my father-in-law became gravely ill - ultimately passing away. It was my Air Force family that provided me much needed updates and gave my family the morale and emotional support they needed until I was able to return on emergency leave. The same family stepped up to assist and helped hold down the fort when I returned to Iraq to complete my deployment. I've been able to depend on this family for the past 22 years to house sit, more cats and dogs then I'd like to mention, so we could vacation out of town. And, who else but my Air Force family would have cut my lawn and shoveled snow during my TDYs and deployments? 

So, never forget you are not alone. You can always count on your Air Force family to be there for you 24/7. The next time someone asks you about your Air Force benefits, don't forget the benefit we all earn on day one of our enlistment - the benefit of being part of a team and committing to something larger than ourselves, our Air Force family benefit - One Team. One Fight. One Family.