None of us can do this alone

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- None of us can do this alone. Along with our Wingmen, we get the mission done every day. And behind the scenes are our families, encouraging us, cheering us on, praying for us and loving us no matter what.

In the thick of the holiday season and during the Air Force's Year of the Family, is a perfect time for all of us to say thanks to those who support us. Whether it's your spouse and kids, mom and dad, great aunt and uncle or all of those above, the ones who care about us most deserve our gratitude.

If you're married, you really can't thank your spouse enough. They stand beside us through it all. They sacrifice as much as we do, if not more. They made the same selfless decision to live this lifestyle as we did.

Together you make life decisions - except when the Air Force Personnel Center is making them for you. Take the time to ensure your spouse knows exactly how much you appreciate him or her. No, I'm not asking you to support the economic stimulus plan this holiday season by purchasing expensive gifts, though my wife would say there is nothing wrong with that. I'm humbly recommending you look your spouse in the eye and thank them for what they do for you.

Thank your kids. They were likely drafted into military life. They didn't get a vote, but they pick up and move with us, saying goodbye to their friends every few years. They say goodbye to you for months or even a year at a time when you're deployed downrange.

They give up time with you so you can do the Air Force mission. Theirs is no small sacrifice, especially in their own eyes. During this holiday season, make sure you hug them and let them know how much their sacrifice means to you.

When you head out of town during the holiday break, make sure you thank mom and dad, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and all your other relatives. Let them know how much their support means to you. They are just as proud and worry about you just as much as your spouse and kids.

Many of you think your service is nothing special -- just part of your job; just what you do. I used to think that. But I've discovered that our service is a big deal to our families. Your service brings them great pride. I see it in their eyes at each graduation ceremony and when they visit the base and see your workplace.

When you're sitting around the big table, having a big meal in the coming weeks, tell your family what you're doing for our Air Force. Tell them how you make a difference. Then thank them for supporting you from the beginning.

I've been in the Air Force for many years. No way could I serve effectively without the love and support of my family -- all of them. I'm guessing you feel the same way. So when we're taking some much deserved time off over the holidays, let's tell our families thanks.

None of us can do this alone.