Creating one family, giving to the Air Force family

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Jessica Brown
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
While most marriage unions come with the exchange of vows, wedding bells and gifts from loved ones, one couple at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., found it was easier to give gifts than to receive.

First Lt. Jason Hatcher, 22nd Contracting Squadron contracting officer, and his wife Valerie, Kansas Court of Appeals research attorney, were married in Orlando, Fla., July 5, 2013.

Jason and Valerie decided that instead of registering for gifts at local businesses, they would ask their guests to donate non-perishables, magazines and to send to deployed Airmen.

"My Maid of Honor's husband is deployed, and she was really upset that he wasn't going to be there," said Valerie. "That was when we decided to use our wedding as an opportunity to show him and others who have given up so much for our country, how much we really do appreciate them."

Several unaccompanied spouses whose significant others were deployed attended the wedding.

"I have several friends who are deployed, so I thought this would be a cool way to include them," said Jason. "We sent the request out in our wedding invitations, and on the day of the wedding, we ended up with an SUV-load of stuff, which we'll use to put together about fifty care packages."

Already knowing who ten of the care packages will be sent to, the couple is faced with determining who to deliver the remaining packages to. A task which Valerie is optimistic about, since this was not the first care package drive she has coordinated.

"I used to do this while in law school," she said. "I would set up care package drives during Christmas, and we'd send them to students, families and friends who were deployed during the holidays."

The new couple said they were excited for their wedding and extremely happy they were able to share the special day with their military family.

"We've been truly blessed by the Air Force and we wanted to give something back to the Airmen," said Valerie. "We know that whoever receives one of these packages will smile and know that they are important and loved, even if it's for a second. It is totally worth it."