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My Military Family

The definition of family has many different meanings, but to servicemembers it takes on a whole new significance. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Senior Airman Kasey Close)

The definition of family has many different meanings, but to servicemembers it takes on a whole new significance. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Senior Airman Kasey Close)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- People say, "You can't always pick your family," and the same goes for your office in the military.

Being in the military is difficult enough, with long hours, training exercises and deployments. It begins to a take toll on a person. So who can you turn to? Your family? Or the people in your office who are going through the same thing?

Before I left for my first deployment, I was a single parent. My family asked me if I really had to go, and whether they could get someone else to go instead of me. "Yes," I told them, "I have to go because as a servicemember, it's my duty and everyone goes at some point."

They finally understood after I explained a little more about deployment rotations and how each member is assigned to a different rotation.

After speaking with my family, I realized that my office colleagues aren't much different than my family members. Each person resembles someone in my family in their own way. Some are like caring sisters, trouble-making brothers, crazy uncles, firm-but-caring fathers, nurturing moms and more. I've met and worked with many such types of people throughout my career.

During my first deployment, my son was almost 2 years old. It was my first time away from my son, and I was a complete mess. I didn't know what to expect when I arrived at the office, but after a while I started seeing the family resemblances.

Everyone in the office had their own way of helping me, and most of the time it was quite subtle. Listening, sharing experiences, telling jokes, being a pain sometimes and reminding us to focus on the mission at hand are some of the ways they helped me get through that deployment.

This is only one of many times that my military family has helped me. They may be a little dysfunctional, but they are there for me when my family can't be around.

Thank you all for being there for me! There aren't any words that can fully describe how much I appreciate you!

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