MEDIA CONTEST: Force shaping affects spouses too

  • Published
  • By ACC Media Contest
  • Commentary Entry 6
The Air Force lieutenants facing the upcoming force shaping board are not just young, fresh-out-of-college men and women.

My wife is a battle-hardened warrior with six and a half years of enlistment under her belt.

She is also the self-proclaimed "greatest lieutenant ever." Her idea is that if she says that long enough, people will start to believe her.

I know I believe it.

She isn't the typical lieutenant, 30 years old, a husband, two kids and nearly 10 years in the Air Force.

She is in a career field that is 400 percent manned in her year group and, because of the manning issue, she is one of the few lieutenants who actually fills a billet.

As an enlisted member, my wife was a Levitow Award winner and she was selected for bootstrap. Since she has become an officer, she has been public affairs company grade officer of the quarter and the year for Air Combat Command and number two Air Force wide.

To me, that sounds outstanding. To me, she is a shoe-in to stay in if she really wants to. But I'm not the person who has the final say in this decision.

The deadline to voluntarily separate has passed. Now we play the waiting game. Officers scheduled to meet the 2006 Force Shaping Board had until March 1 to decide if they would leave voluntarily or meet the board.

Really, we have been waiting since the original force shaping announcement was made. My wife was deployed to Iraq when she was told, based on her career field and year group, that three out of four of her peers would be force shaped.
It was devastating - for her and for me.

How do I comfort a person when I don't know what the outcome will be? I know I will have a job in June, and I really feel that she will too, based on her past performance, but I really have no way of knowing.

I have help.

The Langley Family Support Center offers several programs that will help Airmen and their spouses understand stress involved with the difficult time and how to successfully cope with it.

One of Family Support's most popular classes is the transition assistance program. Like the name implies, the program provides insights into the transition into the civilian workforce.

Whether your spouse plans to get out or stay in, like my wife, the class has many benefits such as lessons on resume writing and tips for having a successful interview.
Whether my wife is force shaped or not, I know there will be changes in my employment status, our lifestyle, the kids' schools and our family's location.

Thanks to the Family Support Center, the Chaplain's office, mental health facilities and local support groups we will get through this trying time.