Overwhelming support in a time of need

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. (AFNS) -- I consider myself pretty fortunate. I have a great wife, fantastic kids and a pretty good career as an Airman. This comfortable world was rocked somewhat on February 11 when a series of headaches turned out to be a brain tumor.

The words "brain tumor," to me, is what one would hear on a daytime soap opera when they wanted to get rid of an ornery character. It is a pretty frightening diagnosis.

However, after doing some research and talking to doctors, it turns out that it is not as hopeless as it is portrayed on the television show House. Despite the given situation, there has been a bright side to this entire experience, which is that I have never felt more a part of the Air Force family.

I've been in the Air Force nearly 15 years, deployed multiple times, collected a wife and two children along the way and experienced the associated events of a normal career. My wife and I have seen support for us and others come in all shapes and sizes. However, never before have I seen the community rally like this. I do not recommend getting a brain tumor, but to be on the receiving end of this kind of support is simply amazing.

Maybe it's because of the worldwide nature of the life we live, the frequent moves, or the whole "war" thing that we bond. Maybe it is just that you're good people ... I don't know.  However, from my family, to my squadron, to the local Air Force community, the medical folks, our neighbors and my worldwide family, I've never felt or seen such support. It has been overwhelming.

Directly after my diagnosis I told my squadron leaders. They immediately offered whatever I needed. They offered to take the kids, provide food, help with work ... whatever. Soon after I got home that night, my host wing commander (we're a tenant unit at a joint base) called to tell me I was officially adopted by the wing. People in my leadership chain, based in Washington, D.C., called and even took leave to come down to visit me in the hospital.

The huge amount of support continued after I was admitted to the hospital, first to the emergency room and then for surgery. The entire process, from diagnosis to surgery, was eight days. As you might imagine, this was a somewhat traumatic time for my family, especially my girls, ages 5 and 3. We had friends, neighbors and fellow Airmen offer to help us however we needed. One neighbor and friend, who is a fellow squadron commander with two small kids and whose husband is deployed, essentially dropped everything to help us in any way she could.

Once in the hospital, the truly global nature of the Air Force family became clear. I had calls from Germany, Pakistan, Turkey, Haiti, Japan, Afghanistan, "undisclosed locations in Southwest Asia" and all over the United States.  Even my School of Advanced Air and Space Studies class grouped together again to support us from every corner of the globe. Everyone offered whatever they could. It was truly humbling.

Before I went in for surgery, both the airlift wing and the mission support group commanders' spouses called my wife to see what they could do. They had never met, but the outreach was there. During my actual surgery, the air base wing commander came to check on my wife and stayed with her throughout the entire surgery. I'm not a wing commander, but have seen their schedules and know this is no small feat.

I could go on for pages about all the encouragement my family and I have received, from phone calls, to visits, to favors and more. Basically, if we want or need it, help is only a quick phone call away. It is simply amazing.

This is the year of the Air Force Family. While the year of the Air Force family is designed to highlight what the Air Force has to offer Airmen and their families, something else was highlighted to me and my family: the incredible nature of who our Airmen are and how much we care for one another.


Facebook Twitter
The STS #Airmen mission @Hurlburt_Field enables the #USAF access across the globe. By surveying landing zones & com… https://t.co/AXsdhrVGuJ
Master Sgt. Craig Domko, 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group #firstsergeant, first look at #Airmen's dormitories followin… https://t.co/s5QZRNHjev
RT @HollomanAFB: The seamless partnership between the 49th LRS & 635th MMG allowed for over 360 tons of supplies to be sent nearly 2,000 mi…
RT @ACC_Commander: Glad to see these Tyndall Raptors getting cleaned off and ready to fly again as part of Tyndall recovery efforts. #Airme
RT @DepSecDef: Great visit to @388fw & @HAFB alongside @GenDaveGoldfein & @usairforce senior leaders to talk #F35 maintenance & performance…
RT @NPR: Hundreds of military families have been displaced from Tyndall Air Force base as a result of Hurricane Michael. https://t.co/zCGM…
RT @TeamTyndall: It's been more than a week since #HurricaneMichael hit the #Florida panhandle & @TeamTyndall, #Airmen are working around t…
RT @LukeAFB: Team Luke was proud to host @POTUS, as well as @DepSecDef & @SecAFOfficial today to showcase defense capabilities. #POTUSatLuk
#Airmen of @116ACW are feeding hope to those affected by #HurricaneMichael by serving food to the #localcommunity,… https://t.co/fNaR8ip52n
RT @USNationalGuard: The worst of #HurricaneMichael brought out the best of the @FLGuard as they conduct wellness checks on residents and r…
RT @SecAFOfficial: Meeting some of the Airmen here @LukeAFB where we train more than 70% of the world’s #F35 pilots. #AirPower https://t.co…
#HurricaneMichael hit the #FloridaPanhandle Oct. 10, w/ @TeamTyndall directly in its path. Active-duty and… https://t.co/yiMUSrnH4h
RT @USAF_ACC: #Airmen from the 49th Logistics Readiness Squadron and 635th Materiel Maintenance Group, @HollomanAFB, dedicated 7,000+ man h…
RT @DoDOutreach: .@USAirForce Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Steve Wilson is here, at @InvictusSydney, meeting with the amazing #TeamUS🇺🇸 athlete…
RT @AFResearchLab: @TeamEglin has been sending a large stream of supplies to aid in rebuilding @TeamTyndall's Air Force Base. #AirForce #co
.@MaxwellAFB & @TeamEglin are serving as @FEMA staging areas, hosting search & rescue personnel & distributing supp… https://t.co/dB934hca43
RT @HollomanAFB: “Knowing that we are supporting our own has pushed the talented members of #BEARBase so much that they were able to have t…
RT @USAF_ACC: Multiple major commands are helping out @TeamTyndall! Airmen from the 823rd Red Horse Squadron, @Hurlburt_Field, & the 635th…
#Airmen taking care of #Airmen: Read how #Georgia @AirNatlGuard personnel have assisted in #HurricaneMichael recove… https://t.co/ts49L2JnYh