Hello, Air Force! My first day started off with the bright lights of day when it should have been 2am. I got about 4 hours of sleep thanks to the “sleepy pills” the on-plane physician handed out. I am your normal everyday military spouse who happens to be a clinician, but I am going to do my best to share with you what I experienced today. My hope is that I can take this experience and translate it in a way that will encourage you to invest in your marriage.
We landed at INCIRLIK Air Base in Turkey which conducts many of the airstrike missions in Syria. US Families (mostly Air Force) are stationed here much like any other OCONUS assignment but because of the rising tensions in and around Turkey and its border with Syria, families have been placed on lockdown and cannot leave base. Many of the families that were here before the lockdown remember what it is like to travel into the city, which makes it even harder. I imagined that many of them feel isolated and trapped. Can you imagine some of the new spouses getting an assignment to Turkey and then finding out they can’t leave the base once here?
While here, there was a town hall for military families where they could ask Secretary Carter questions. Most of the questions were on the lockdown, how long it would continue, and would there be an upcoming forced evacuation. Secretary Carter was very encouraging that he did not foresee a forced evacuation and hoped that things would improve.
My mission here is to understand what it is like for our service members. Seeing our Air Force in full force was intimidating, in a good way. They are putting in long hours both on the ground and in the air. Many of the spouses here described how much better they understand deployments now that they are watching “at home deployments” play out in front of them. Their service member is tired, but determined to complete the incredible mission given them.
The threat of ISIS is very real. It already feels real to us there in America, but here our military families can’t even leave base to go into town. The importance of building allies and coalition partners is necessary and our leaders are working hard to do it. It was incredible to see Airmen from Germany, Spain, and Turkey all joining our personnel for the same cause. Some of the coalition airmen stood up to thank our US airmen for their hospitality and how proud they were to be fighting ISIS with us.
Turkey was warm for December. Not as hot as it would be in the summer, but the families there are enjoying 70 degree weather. Seeing the city in the distance made me wonder how safe some of the families are out there. One spouse here is Turkish and cannot get off base to see her mother. I can’t imagine who scary that is! Since I am an Army spouse, I have to give a shout out to the incredible power we have in our aircraft. I saw every plane you can imagine lined up, many of them loaded with the bombs that are ready for the next mission. As my heart rumbled in my chest as the fighter jets took off, I couldn’t help but be thankful for what they do and the amount of skill and precision they develop to do it. I totally get it Air Force Spouses- it is pretty incredible to witness. From the moment I stepped on this historic plane, refueling in air, and then visiting Incirlik, I am so proud of our Air Force. My father was a pilot in the Air Force and I feel like I am seeing him in his jumpsuit around every corner.
Today’s #PowerofMarriage message is this:
- The mission our service members are called to do is not only real, but more important than ever. It is a noble cause whether it is to protect our lives or someone else’s. Keeping their mind on the mission is paramount to success in that moment. As hard as it is to let them go and not heap unnecessary stress on them- it is the right thing to do. This doesn’t mean that we don’t communicate. On the contrary, it means that we learn to communicate better, quicker, identifying the root issue so that it can be resolved or processed. Striving not for perfection, but for peace, is not only good for us, but beneficial for them.
- Our military tempo is very different than it used to be. Deployments aren’t going away, if anything we are adding a new component that keep hearing about from spouses. It is the deployment from home- the long work hours that feel like a deployment. I’m not sure, perhaps some of you would say one is easier than the other. Both are stressful on the relationship. Be intentional with your time together. Decide together how and when you will decompress by setting a specific time and time limit.