Family trips with the Air Force

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Jeff Walston
  • 917th Wing Public Affairs
During a good portion of my childhood, Dad had two weeks of the summer with us kids to cram a year's worth of experiences into. Every summer Dad had a trip planned. Upon arriving at our second home, without fail, we'd load supplies into the pop-up trailer and head out on a two-week adventure. Carlsbad Caverns, Pikes Peak, and the Ouachita National Forest were just a few of the places we visited during my childhood.

The traveling impacted me the most, because now I love the road. And today, when the stress of everyday life gets to be too much, I get in my car and drive. I don't need a place to go, just a place to be. It's what I do ... thanks to Dad.

For the young Airmen today, who need to get away, for whatever the reason, but don't have a place to go, or a large sum of money to get there, a family trip may just be the thing they need. But, for some, going home is not an option.

Since joining the Air Force 10 years ago, I've heard about the Air Force family and just how big it is and what it means. It's true. I now have friends ... I mean "family," all over the world. Of course, some I consider to be the red-headed stepbrother. But, that's okay. Every family has one.

Today, with Facebook at my finger tips, my Air Force family members, as well as my old Navy family members are fairly easy to keep in touch with, and I do.

Recently, I needed to get away. I made contact with my Air Force family to find out who didn't think of me as the red-headed stepbrother. I found one. Jerry was in school in Pensacola, Fla. We decided I should make the drive to Florida for a fun-filled weekend with my brother.

Now, the drive could've been made in one day, but I decided on two. I took the small-town route to see the sights off the beaten path, because I believe that's what getting away is all about.

I also believe you need to see the things that make you proud to be an American, especially today. You need to see things that you, as an Airman, fight for every day.

America, bottom line, is the reason we work so hard at what we do. So, put a few dollars away every month. Call it your get away money, but put in away. And, when the time comes, find a family member who can tolerate you for a weekend and go. If you're like me, you'll find someone close enough to you to make the trip worth taking. Take a friend if you must, split the costs, but go.

It's time to see America. It's time to see the things that may be gone in the years to come. You've worked hard ... it's time to experience what you have sacrificed for. I believe that as a member of the United States Air Force, you've earned the time with your family.