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Being there

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD -- While I was attending a chief leadership course, years back, I was dismayed to here my class mentor tell me that when his daughter called home with a problem, she would never ask to talk with him, she would always ask for her Mom. This sad fact of their family life was a result of him never being there when his daughter was growing up.

This security forces chief was highly renowned in his career field and throughout the Air Force. He, like many of us, gave every job 110 percent. He worked extended hours, brought work home, came in on the weekends and ensured his Airmen were always well taken care of. As he approached retirement he realized, too late, that he had put all his effort into work and missed the importance of taking care of his "Airmen" at home. For our mission to be truly successful it is essential that we balance all of the pillars of resiliency.

Since then, I have tried to ensure that I did not make this same mistake and have encouraged others to also avoid this trap. Although I still find myself working late and coming in on the weekends, I also put more effort into making the time spent at home count. Enjoying the time you spend with your loved ones enables you to better focus on the task at hand when you are at work or deployed. Quality family time is of the utmost importance.

This past summer my son Jack, and I decided some quality time was in order.

We decided to try and hike across the Olympic Peninsula from Quinault to Hoodsport. We planned our epic trek together in the weeks prior to our departure. We had fun in all of the planning stages with many shopping sprees for all of the essential gear we would need.

About a month before departure, we set off on two weekend hikes, one of which was to the Pacific beaches camping along the Ozette Loop to test our gear and our stamina.

In August, satisfied that we were fully prepared, we set off for our six-day adventure. We traveled up through the Enchanted Valley up over Anderson and Lacrosse passes and out along the Duckabush River, a total of more than 40 miles.

The weather and the terrain tested us both but with my teenage son encouraging (pushing) me, and me motivating him, our teamwork got us to our destination.

The trip was less about the destination, however, and more about the journey. A week away from the hustle and bustle of work and electronics, gave us time to talk and really strengthen our bond. Jack and I often reflect on our fantastic time together this summer. Those memories are there forever.
In the years to come, I can only hope that if my son calls home with a problem he doesn't hesitate when I answer the phone.

So, when you are building your daily schedule, don't forget to arrange time for some of your most valued Airmen - Your family!