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Forum focuses on family

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, (left to right) his wife Betty, Athena Cody and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody pose for a photo at the Air Force Association's 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept.16, 2013, in Washington D.C. Betty and Athena addressed Family Spouse Forum attendees concerning unique issues facing military spouses and family members such as multiple deployments, child care and education. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael J. Pausic)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, (left to right) his wife Betty, Athena Cody and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody pose for a photo at the Air Force Association's 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept.16, 2013, in Washington D.C. Betty and Athena addressed Spouse and Family Forum attendees concerning unique issues facing military spouses and family members such as multiple deployments, child care and education. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael J. Pausic)

Betty Welsh discusses the impact of multiple deployments on Air Force family members during the Spouse and Family Forum at the 2013 Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington D.C. Betty is the wife of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael J. Pausic )

Betty Welsh discusses the impact of multiple deployments on Air Force family members during the Spouse and Family Forum at the 2013 Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington D.C. Betty is the wife of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael J. Pausic )

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- In remarks and an interactive session during the Air Force Association’s Spouse and Family Forum here today, spouses of Air Force senior leaders championed the service’s focus on families and support. 

Betty Welsh and Athena Cody, spouses of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody, shared their personal experiences with 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition attendees during the forum which featured discussions covering varied topics relevant to the total Air Force family.

“I hope you realize it is the friendships, the support, and the sense of contributing to something important knowing you and your spouse are serving our nation,” Welsh said of military families’ advantages. “I hope you feel like I do – that it is the joys of this lifestyle that we live and not the difficulties that form our rewards.”

Welsh spoke candidly about her experiences having three boys, one girl, and grandchildren amid many deployments, moves, assignments, expenses and schools. 

“John is a great story of resiliency,” Welsh recounted of her second son, a 2003 Air Force Academy graduate. 

Welsh said her son began was diagnosed with Lemierre's syndrome, which caused him to become medically grounded from flying and discharged from the Air Force. 

“While I was still crying over his dreams being crushed, John called up one day,” Welsh said. “He said, ‘Mom, I have always wanted to be a doctor’ and I had to make sure I was talking to my son on the phone.” 

John has since begun his orthopedic residency at Texas A&M University. 

Welsh remembered the support spouses received, even during her husband’s deployment in support of Desert Storm in 1992. Spouses, she said, had help with counseling, support groups, job assistance, and even pet care.

“I am not a licensed counselor or a therapist, but I am very passionate about helping military spouses,” Welsh said. “If it could happen when our spouses were gone it did. And we handled it all.”

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