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Taking care of our 'Deployment Family'

Col. Kurt D. Jones, 302nd Operations Group commander. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Col. Kurt D. Jones, 302nd Operations Group commander. (U.S. Air Force photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Approximately 150 Airmen from both the 302nd Maintenance and Operations Groups deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. All of them have left loved ones and friends behind for the next four months to cope with everyday life without them.

In addition to the deployers from this package, there are a number of other units and individual members who are also deployed. Since the events of Sept. 11, 2001, our wing has seen a heavy increase in deployments. Families of Air Force Reservists have become familiar with the challenges of deploying -- many for the first time. There will be life issues that will arise and challenge us in their absence.

Communication through mediums such as e-mail and Skype have made managing these challenges a little easier than they used to be, but they can never make up for the physical presence of our deployed members. To make up for these absences, we, the non-deployed, need to extend our families to include the families and friends of our deployed Airmen. I call this our "deployment family."

Every one of us that has deployed has felt the helplessness of being too far away to meet the needs of our family. In many cases, it has been someone from our military associations that volunteered to meet those needs. The Air Force calls this being a good Wingman. I call it family.

Family takes care of family out of love and concern, not obligation. Therefore, make the effort to know what is happening in the lives of our deployed families. Make your talents and resources known to our first sergeants and key spouses. Be available for a call and try to be the solution to an issue that is causing someone in our deployment family to stumble.

I'm counting on every one of us to take the time to ensure our deployment family stays strong. That's what being a good Wingman is all about and that's what it truly means to be a member of the 302nd Airlift Wing.

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