“Fight and win” not just cliché
“What about the families we leave behind? How do they fight and win to keep the household going while we are off fighting and winning the war?”

Senior Master Sgt. Mike Sowder
16th Operations Support Squadron

Most people in Air Force Special Operations Command think of going to war in Iraq or Afghanistan when they hear the words, “fight and win.” I admit I thought the same thing at first.

But after I thought about it a few days, it was like the old cliché of a light going on. Fight and win isn’t just for those who signed the dotted line and joined the military. Fight and win goes deeper than that.

What about the families we leave behind for 60-, 90- or 120-day deployments?  How do they fight and win to keep the household going while we are off fighting and winning the war? More importantly, how can we help them fight and win while we are gone?
Here are some ideas before you go:

– Check your will. Does it say what you want it to? Are you going to allow the state to dictate who gets your possessions if something happens to you while you’re gone?

– Do you need a power of attorney? Does your spouse or legal representative have everything they need to make sure the bills are paid and the children are taken care of? If the car breaks down or is wrecked, can they sell it and get a new one?

– Are your finances squared away? Will the rent or mortgage get paid? Can your family afford to eat?

– Ensure the squadron calls once a week. Find a specific individual (not always the first sergeant or commander) who knows how to get in touch with your family. It’s always nice to hear from the squadron that deployed family members are getting along well or that maybe you would like to have some of those special cookies from “Mom.”

Likewise, it’s good for your family to have a named person to contact if they have problems or just need to talk about things if they are getting extra stressful.

– Hide notes around the house before you leave and periodically let them know where one is. Little surprises don’t have to be some sort of a gift, but a nice poem or singlet can bring a smile when nothing else can.
Helping your family stay happy will make it easier on you, too.

I found the hardest time for my family was the first week after I deployed. They didn’t know where I was until they received an e-mail or phone call.

We definitely have it good when it comes to keeping in touch with our loved ones. Don’t wait a week after you get to your location to let them know you’ve made it and you are fine.

Yes, we may be fine, but our loved ones, trying to fight and win back home, may not be because they are worried sick about not hearing from you.

These are but a few things you can do to help those left behind to fight and win the war on the home front.

If my “light” can come on, then the light in the house will stay on because my family knows we are both here to fight and win.