20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


Hometown: Shaw AFB, SC, US

20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
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3 pillars of mission readiness: Family preparation


Story by Airman 1st Class Michael Cossaboom

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. - When an Airman deploys they leave their family behind it can cause a huge amount of stress on their loved ones. It’s important to make sure Airman and their families are prepared when duty calls.

“In the blink of an eye you could be gone and your loved ones will be left to do everything the service member did all on their own,” said Chief Master Sgt. Charles Mills, 20th Fighter Wing command chief. “They have to make every meal, cut the grass, pay the bills and take care of everything else by themselves.”

This can be a particularly difficult for parents leaving their children behind, it can be even more challenging as a single parent.

Staff Sgt. Kimberly Swanagan, 20th Fighter Wing chaplain assistant, is a single mother of two preparing for a deployment.

“The hardest thing I’ve faced so far, while trying to deploy, has been telling my children I will be gone for a while,” said Swanagan.

To help parents in the transition, the Air Force provides many services for military members to use to help their families while they are deployed.

“I had a lot of resources at my disposal,” said Swanagan. “I had the Airman and family readiness center, chaplains office, but, most of all, I had all my friends and family helping me.”

Families can go through tough times when their loved ones leave, said Mills.

“If you leave behind a spouse and kids, the spouse’s life instantly becomes a challenge, because they are left with 50 percent of the resources to do everything,” said Mills. “ The spouse has to take care of the kids all by themselves, take care of the house all by themselves, and do everything all by themselves. It’s tough. That’s why it’s important to make sure that they are all taken care of before you leave. Ensure the spouse is plugged into one of many supporting agencies, such as their units Key Spouse program or into the Officer or Enlisted Spouse Clubs.”

For Airmen to maintain their mission readiness, they have to maintain their families’ mission readiness. So, before an Airman leaves, it’s important to make sure they prepare their family.

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