MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --
The Air Force dubbed 2019 as “Year of the Defender” for security forces members. The 366th Security Forces Squadron was so excited about this announcement, they decided to grow their numbers - and not in the traditional sense.
Twenty-one babies were born this year within the squadron, giving birth to the new title: “Year of the Baby Defender.”
Security Forces’ members have one of the most critical and demanding jobs in the Air Force, so balancing defender duties and parenting may seem overwhelming. These families, however, have shown that with the support of their squadron, anything is possible.
“There wasn’t a time before the birth of my daughter when I questioned how it would affect my work,” said Tech Sgt. Jamal Shaw, 366th SFS NCO in charge of the commander support staff. “I have seen time and time again where the squadron supports its people.”
Along with being a parent of a new “baby-defender,” Shaw’s job is to ensure the plans and programs the commander wants are disseminated to all the squadron Airmen so they have legal-based guidance. Shaw ensures squadron members’ security clearances are up-to-date, while also implementing a new policy of self-test for fitness at the squadron level.
Though his job is time-consuming and sometimes chaotic, Shaw has built a support system through his family and co-workers.
“My wife is a great support for me,” Shaw said. “I would not be able to balance my work and home life without the help of Mrs. Ramona Shaw.”
Shaw recalled a situation where he witnessed his support system spring into action.
“A squadron member’s wife was pregnant and worried about the baby,” Shaw said. “She was waiting for her husband to get off post and go to the hospital with her. He was waiting to get relieved from the gate when he finally informed me of what was going on.”
Observing first-hand the support his leadership was willing to offer, Shaw knew he could lean on them.
“The operations officer at the time, Capt. David Greene, said ‘get the member off that post now so he can go with his wife to the hospital - I'll grab a weapon and go work that post’,” Shaw said.
Staff Sgt. Megan Schneider, 366th SFS NCO in charge of combat arms, had her second child in May of this year, adding to the 21 “defender babies” of 2019.
Schneider’s daily duties consist of instructing weapons training on the M-4 carbine and working the firing line at Combat Arms Training and Maintenance. When she’s not working with weapons, she manages squadron programs.
Schneider carries a lot of responsibility in her job, but when family-duty calls, her unit has her back.
“My section has a great working relationship and I have a lot of support within the unit,” Schneider said. "They understand that sometimes I may need to leave early.”
For Schneider, recognizing when to separate home life from work life is key.
“I am still trying to find a balance between being a mom to two kids and being the NCOIC of combat arms,” Schneider said. “I just try and make sure my kids know that I am present with them.”
Though these two individuals work in separate units and have different experiences with parenting, the encouragement they have received from their squadron allows both members be the parents they need to be.
“When a squadron invests in their people as much as the 366th SFS has in its new parents, the squadron not only becomes a place of work, but an extended family,” Shaw said.