Like the song says, 'there's no place like home for the holidays"
... but for many service members this is not an option. Many of them
will be deployed and away from home. They won't pick out a tree and
decorate it with their children, they won't come together with their
friends and families for a celebration dinner and they won't be
opening presents underneath the tree.
For SMSgt Kristen
Stanley, public affairs superintendent for the 128th Air Refueling
Wing, missing the holidays because of her military commitment has
happened 3 of the past 4 years.
December 2, 2017 - U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Kristen
Stanley and her family open gifts from the USO of Wisconsin after a
sendoff ceremony at General Mitchell Air Field in Milwaukee, WI. For
some Airmen, this will be their first time away from their families
as they embark on this deployment. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by
Master Sgt. Kellen Kroening)
In 2013 she served as First Sergeant during a two-month
rotation in Guam for the Theater Security package. In 2015
she spent the holidays deployed as first sergeant with seven
hundred and fifty aircraft maintenance airmen assigned to
the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. Last Christmas she
celebrated in Djibouti, Africa while assigned to the
Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.
obligations prevented Stanley from physically being with her
family for the holidays but she didn't let it stop her from
celebrating with them through creative measures.
"Technology makes it easier to stay connected. With video
chat I've been able to watch my kids open their Christmas
presents on Christmas morning even though I'm in a totally
different time zone." said Stanley.
our family celebrated in October prior to my departure.
After watching a Green Bay Packer win on TV we called the
kids upstairs to surprise them with a lit Christmas tree and
Christmas of 2017 is looking much
different for Sergeant Stanley but military obligation is
still weighing in. Her oldest son who is currently at Air
Force basic training will graduate just days before
Christmas. She will fly down to meet up with her Air Force
veteran parents to witness him become the next generation
"Ironically the Air Force almost had me away
from home again this Christmas but I've arranged it so that
I will fly back to be with the rest of my family on
The merriment of the holidays will be
bitter sweet as the stress of deployment will hit the
Stanley home again soon. TSgt Chad Stanley, her husband is
scheduled to deploy early in the year for a 6 month tour in
A send- off ceremony was held during
December's regular scheduled drill weekend to recognize
those that have answered the Nation's call to duty and will
depart for areas around the globe.
deployment I'll be looking to the support services that are
offered to the families of deployed service members. This
will be a bit of a role reversal for me as the parent that
is left back at home." Stanley said.
military organizations the 128th Air Refueling Wing has
programs set up to aid families during these stressful
times. Yellow Ribbon and Strong Bonds programs help families
pre, during and post deployment. Through these programs
members and their families learn resiliency skills and have
time away to enjoy each other's company.
strong bonds program has been a beneficial way for our kids
to open up about how deployment affect them. They let us
know what we can do as a community effort to support them
through the difficulties." remarks Stanley.
everyone will be home for the holidays but with creativity
and flexibility the holiday spirit can be enjoyed wherever
you are. These are the sacrifices that are made by service
member and their families for the defense of the Nation.
By U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. Kellen Kroening
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