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Video teleconference connection connects couple for unique promotion ceremony

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz speaks at a unique promotion ceremony for Majs. Christian and Lori Hodge at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., June 4, 2012.  Christian attended the ceremony in person while his wife Lori, who is deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, participated via video teleconference.  The two were promoted from captain to the rank of major during the ceremony.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Andy Morataya)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz speaks at a unique promotion ceremony for Majs. Christian and Lori Hodge at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., June 4, 2012. Christian attended the ceremony in person while his wife Lori, who is deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, participated via video teleconference. The two were promoted from captain to the rank of major during the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo/Andy Morataya)

Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick, director of Air Force Public Affairs, and Maj. Christian Hodge pin rank insignia onto a life-size photo cut-out of Hodge’s wife, Maj. Lori Hodge, during a unique promotion ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., June 4, 2012.  The Hodges were both promoted from captain to the rank of major during the ceremony.  Lori, who is deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, participated via video teleconference.  The photo cut-out took her place during the pin-on portion of the ceremony.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Andy Morataya)

Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick, the director of Air Force Public Affairs, and Maj. Christian Hodge pin rank insignia onto a life-size photo cut-out of Hodge’s wife, Maj. Lori Hodge, during a unique promotion ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., June 4, 2012. The Hodges were both promoted from captain to the rank of major during the ceremony. Lori, who is deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, participated via video teleconference. The photo cut-out took her place during the pin-on portion of the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo/Andy Morataya)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz administers the oath of office to Maj. Lori Hodge and her husband, Maj. Christian Hodge, during a unique promotion ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., June 4, 2012.  Christian attended the ceremony in person while Lori, who is deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, attended via video teleconference.  The two were promoted from captain to the rank of major during the ceremony.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Andy Morataya)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz administers the oath of office to Maj. Lori Hodge and her husband, Maj. Christian Hodge, during a unique promotion ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., June 4, 2012. Christian attended the ceremony in person while Lori, who is deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, attended via video teleconference. The two were promoted from captain to the rank of major during the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo/Andy Morataya)

WASHINGTON -- From the most senior officer to the newest enlisted Airman, promotion is a milestone best celebrated standing alongside family and friends. Thanks to modern technology and a little ingenuity, a joint military couple serving thousands of miles away from one another was able to share in each other's special day during a double-promotion ceremony here June 4.

Capts. Christian and Lori Hodge, both public affairs officers stationed in the National Capital Region, were promoted to the rank of major during a ceremony in the Pentagon, but with an unconventional twist.

During the ceremony, Christian was pinned on here at the Pentagon while Lori got her gold leaves in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she is currently deployed. Each was able to participate in the ceremony, presided over by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and attended by Christian's mother and the Hodges' 20-month-old daughter Alexa, thanks to a video teleconference connection.

"It is important to recognize family sacrifice," Schwartz said. "Families contribute to our mission in ways that are often unheralded and perhaps insufficiently acknowledged, but today we can see that they are the source of our strength as an Air Force."

Christian, who is the chief of public affairs for the 11th Wing at Joint Base Andrews, Md., had his new rank pinned on by his family members and Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick, the director of Air Force Public Affairs, at the Pentagon.

Lori's was pinned on in Afghanistan by Army Brig. Gen. Lewis Boone, the director of public affairs for the International Security Assistance Force. At the Pentagon, family members and Kodlick also pinned new rank on a life-size cardboard cut-out of Lori, who is deployed to Afghanistan from the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs.

The Hodges have been apart for nearly half of their six-year marriage, and like many military families, have had to deal with the stress of separation and reintegration, Lori said.

"It goes without saying that being an active-duty military couple can be difficult because of deployments," she said after the ceremony via VTC. "It can be very taxing and very stressful on a relationship."

When their daughter was born, a new set of stressors was added, but Lori said support from family, friends, co-workers and their leadership has allowed the Hodges to continue to serve as a family.

"Many people asked me, 'How can you go away on a deployment for an entire year, especially away from your baby girl?'" Lori said, adding that experiences like the promotion ceremony make it all worthwhile.

During his comments, Schwartz said he and his wife, Suzie, have always looked at military service as a "team sport," something well-represented by the Hodges' double-promotion ceremony and their service to the nation as a military family.

"What we are witnessing today is a manifestation of the Air Force as a team sport -- in this case, a joint spouse family with a lovely daughter," Schwartz said.