Epilogue

I am a huge advocate for the one percent of our citizens who volunteer to be in the military.  My deployment has been more than a swell of appreciation and a truly enlightening understanding of what deployment is like.  Living and seeing first hand…not through theory or academic exposure…gave me a deep understanding of the impact and cost of “dropping warheads” by the Airmen who do it day-in and day-out…even from the “safety” of where I was deployed.  The brotherhood and alliance that comes with those you deploy with is a powerful solidarity that is unmatched to any experience I’ve ever had.

Version 2It has been the honor to wear the uniform.  On base, people often told me it “was cool” or “awesome” that I wore the uniform. Yes, I did volunteer and yes I did chose to wear the uniform, but it was all done with the greatest respect for those who serve…and I served with.  Over there, where the mission to fly and fight is waged, you understand fully why we training, and why we must have engaged subject matter experts and leaders, and how any vulnerability is magnified and impacts the capability to execute the mission.  And, when you take a moment and step back to reflect, you realize what you experienced and had the privilege to be a part of was “the military machine” in action:  working, supporting and doing what our military do best….working as a synchronized team.  To have been a part of it “out there” is my capstone experience as a devoted civil servant to our military community.  I am absolutely humbled by the amazing men and women who serve our country.

And I am also forever grateful to two amazing Airmen who encouraged and believed in me and my ability to serve in the capacity as Deputy Commander to a deployed squadron.  Thank you.  Thank you to my former boss and forever friend.  I carried you with me in so many ways.  You were a part of the internal dialogues I had with myself as I pressed forward and into my deployed service.  You readied me to understand that deployment would stretch me in ways I would not have anticipated, that “being me” would help all our Airmen (which I truly didn’t understand at the time), and to allow my “heart, head and soul” be my compass in the rapid fire/make a decision deployed environment.  You are and always be the wind under my wings and a cherished friend.  Joe&MeAnd to my Commander in that undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, thank you for your trust in me, your leadership and friendship.  Hayesman was right on target…serving as your deputy and trusted and forever loyal Airman was the right thing at the right time. I have tried to express the gratitude and appreciation for you and our expeditionary work together. When you get back to “the other side,” know our friendship will always be enduring. Thank you my Wingman….my friend.

Deployment is not an individual experience; my blog is my perspective.  I served with folks who deploy about every 2 years…or less!  They leave behind their children and spouses, aging parents and friends.  They willingly accept their service and take each deployment as another experience in their service to our country.  Some military married to military try to deconflict their deployment cycles, but sometimes they overlap, like the 21 year hold Senior Airman who worked for me.  Her husband deployed as well so their one-year old stayed with her sister.  These Airman missed Thanksgiving and Christmas, birthdays and life milestones.  Their sacrifice and their families sacrifice should leave every one of us humble and grateful.

I’m fortunate that I have been trained and educated about the deployment cycle and the impact on deployed members and their families.  It certainly prepared me and helped me navigate the journey.  What training can’t provide is the full appreciation of how absolutely every level of you and your family is touched by deployment.  I tried to share here the challenges and experiences I faced when deployed, reunion and all the emotions leading up to and being in the “honeymoon” period of being home. This blog has been my therapy….a way to ground my thoughts and feelings, wrestle with them, accept and deal with them.  I also hope that this blog has provide you with a window into a world…a world that was safe and unlike the many who serve at “boots on the ground” locations which are truly in harms way.  May my experience provide you with a lens to look through when contemplating and trying to understand the significance and consequences that come from when our countries leaders and citizens advocate to leverage and dispose military forces and the “who” who execute those orders…military members and their families.  Planes don’t fly without people to fly them…it’s done by the  uniformed personnel who put themselves in harms way and leave behind families and loved ones.

What my blog couldn’t speak to is what it was like for Mac…for Morgan (Caitlin) and Liam, for my mother, brothers and sister-in-laws, for my friends, my church-family, and work-family.  The ripple effect (or, as we say in the military, the second and third orders of effect) of deployment is unmeasurable.  I felt it when I was away and I feel it and see it now and will likely continue to in the many days, weeks and months ahead of me. How grateful and blessed I am to have my loving, supportive and understanding family who embraced my deployment and were there when I reached-back and reached-in to check on me.  How grateful and blessed I am to have my dear friends whose cards and “text chats” were buoys of support.  And how fortunate I am to have supportive colleagues who held me with them and a church-family whose thoughts and prayers made it to me across the thousands of miles.  Thank you to all, for your positive energy and love which continues to fill me up.

But all of this would have been fiction…because there is no way I could have volunteered and taken on the challenge of deployment without Mac.  You are my life partner, my anchor, my sailboat.  Your unconditional support, love and friendship is my strength and my endurance.  You are my home and my nourishment and I am so blessed to have you as the foundation of my life.

~~~~~~

As is the greeting in the country I left, “Peace be with You.”

Version 3

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