Monday, August 9, 2010

He was meant for this...

 We all know who in the military world are the most feared. 
Ashley gives us a little glimpse into the life of those who are called upon to "knock on the door."
It takes a very special warrior to fulfill this calling.



My husband is approaching his half way mark in his Air Force career and I must admit that I was really getting a handle on this whole military spouse gig. We have survived two deployments, PCSed 3 times, too many TDYs to count, went through a Forced Cross Training (That put a small nick in our marriage.), and all of the daily grinds joys of the military life. But once you get used to the military way of life, they throw you a curve ball.

As I mentioned above, we went through a Forced Cross Train due to an abundance of Staff Sergeants in his previous career. My husband went from being a mechanic to working at the Gym. This was a very rough transition for my husband. He felt like he was not a part of a mission anymore. But he kept his head up and was quickly recognized as one of the top Jr NCOs in his squadron. His hard work would eventually pay off.

This past fall, my husband came home from his deployment to Kuwait and was moved to the Readiness office for his squadron. Readiness has many duties including Mortuary Affairs. I still remember the lump in my stomach when he rambled off his new job titles and then said, “Oh Yeah, I will be the NCOIC for Mortuary Affairs.” UHM excuse me, back up one second! He then went on to tell me, “Don’t worry Ashley, Dover handles deaths that happen overseas. I may never handle a death.” Yeah, Famous Last Words.

I am not sure that it was even two weeks after he was given his new job title when the dreaded blue phone rang. It was Easter weekend and we had just got finished dying eggs with the kids. A single airman was killed in a motorcycle accident. My first reaction was CRAP David would not get to spend Easter with his family. That lasted a minute before I realized that a Mother would hear the words that no mother should ever have to hear, her son had died. Easter would never be the same for that family.

Unfortunately, our base has had several deaths, including two suicides since that weekend. After my husband receives a death notification, I do not see him for a good 3-4 days. But then I step back and remember that a family will never see their loved one again.

I have observed and learned so many aspects of the military with this new job. I know that if something ever happened to my husband, the Air Force will take great care of David and my family. They take care of everything that you ask them to. And it is the little touches that my husband takes care of that I know means the most to the families. I now truly believe that the Air Force takes care of their own.

I have also witnessed a different side of my husband. He works so hard to make sure that everything goes smoothly for the families. You wouldn’t believe how many people he talks to in a day so the family does not have to worry with a death certificate, setting up an autopsy, having the loved one flown to their home state, communicating with an escort to fly with the military member, and so much more. He takes his job seriously and honors the military member and their family. They say things happen for a reason and I cannot help but think that David was meant to do this job.


And one last important thing that I have learned and MUST share, please make sure that your spouse’s or child’s (military member) SGLI and Record of Emergency Data has been updated after a marriage, divorce, death, etc to ensure that their money goes where they wish. I have seen and heard stories of the good, bad, and the ugly!!







16 comments:

September Love said...

Wow...that's a different perspective. Thanks for writing it. I can imagine how hard it would be to start in a job like that - but to take it and make it his mission to make the time of loss for the families as easy on them as possible is a wonderful testament to how no matter what your job is in the military, you can make a difference. Thank you for sharing!

Amanda said...

We need good people to do all the jobs in the military. I'm glad your husband works so hard for these families. I hope I never need the services of his job, but if I do, I hope there is someone who works as hard as he does for the families taking care of things.

Chantal said...

That's such a hard job that we don't even really think about in the midst of deployments.

Ashley said...

Thanks, Mrs. GI Joe for the too sweet introduction. Luckily, my husband has not had to knock on the door. All of the airmen have been single and their families lived out of state. He does talk to the families an hour after they have hear the words that no parent, spouse, brother/sister, child, or significant other should ever have to hear! I am so proud of my husband and the pride that he takes in his job. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share our story!

Mrs. Muffins said...

I can't even find the words. I hope I never have the knock at the door but I'm thankful that the widows and families have such good people taking care of them.

R said...

I'm not sure what to even say... thank you, I hope I never get the knock, but thank you. thank you to your husband. thanks to the AirForce for taking such good care of their own.

Mrs. G.I. Joe said...

Oh I'm sorry for the mix up Ashley. I thought he did the notifying too. But regardless...G.I. Joe and I had talked about this after I watched Taking Chance. I think that anyone who has any involvement with "this" side of the military really has to be dedicated. These jobs aren't ones you can half-ass and I can only imagine that you aren't allowed any bad days of your own. You have to really care about people.

So you definitely have a lot to be proud of!

Mrs. Doc Handsome said...

This was a beautiful post and it's nice to hear a this side of one of the jobs that require so much strength and diligince in the work. Not only for your husband, but for you and your children too. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Jill said...

You should be very proud of the work your husband does! I've often wondered about the what-if's if something happened to my husband overseas. It's really reassuring to know how much the AF cares in this regard. Lord willing I'll never need to experience this side of military life, but it gives me some peace.

Goodnight moon said...

Thank you to your husband who has to do THE hardest time in the military! And thank you to YOU, for being such a supportive military wife. I can NOT even imagine what his days are like for him. I had a lump in my throat just reading your post!

Great post!

Ash and Matt | A SoCal Story said...

Such an interesting perspective on a situation that none of us like to think about. Thanks for sharing, Ashley--and thanks to your husband for taking such good care of families in their time of need.

This reminded me of the Pulitzer Prize winning article about a Marine Corps casualty assistance calls officer: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2005/nov/11/final-salute/. I think we've all seen the pictures associated with the story, but I hadn't read the actual article until recently. It's very touching, to say the least. (Although, I would only recommend reading it when your loved ones are home with you and a box of tissues is handy.)

Mr. Superman & Mrs. S. said...

What an incredibly tough job but its great that your husband is so good at it. I love your attitude and outlook!

Anonymous said...

This was beautifully written. Your attitude and outlook is to be commended. Thank you!

Dayngr | Dayngrous Discourse said...

Thanks so much for sharing that post with us. Thank goodness for kind and caring people like your husband.

Kerry said...

Ashley Thank you SOOOOO much for posting this. My husband also has the very unfortunate job of notifying families of their son's or husband's passing and it's a job that he HATES doing. It's also something that's constantly in the back of each and every military family's head, hoping that it won't ever happen to them. Thanks for also making a note to update SGLI and other necessary paperwork.

Pattie said...

Awesome. My husband is a chaplain and has on occasion worked closely with the person doing your husband's job. Not easy, not at all--but so needed. Thank him--and thank you--for all the sacrifices.