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Taking Care of the Family

Patrick AFB, Fla. -- In his article Lorenz on Leadership: Part 3, Air Education and Training Command commander Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz refers to the Air Force as a "family business" made up of our "extended Air Force family" - active duty, guard, reserves, civilians, retirees and their families. It's a definition recently echoed by Air Force Chief Of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. It is this definition of family that should guide us in taking care of the Air Force family.

Families really know each other. They know each others' likes, dislikes, interests, and moods. We should become as familiar with our Air Force family as we are with our immediate family by learning more about co-workers, subordinates, and mission partners than just where they work or what they do. Achieving this level of familiarity enables us to spot changes in normal behavior and we can intervene before things such as violence or suicide occur.

Families forgive and discipline. Everyone makes mistakes and our families are usually the first to forgive us. When family members make mistakes, we correct, educate, sometimes with children we discipline, and we forgive. The Air Force family is no different. Mistakes will be made and when they happen, we should correct, educate, discipline if serious enough, and forgive.

Whether in the same house or separated by hundreds of miles, families help each other. Help in the Air Force can be as simple as making time to just sit and talk or helping a deployed member's spouse with yard work. It can also be difficult, such as working through the grieving process after the death of an Air Force family member. No matter the task, issue, or event involved, a family helps each other and together they figure a way through.

Our Air Force will always have successes, challenges, and changes. How will we face them? Will we be an organization of individuals struggling to achieve success, avoid challenges, and endure change? Through knowing each other, helping each other, forgiveness and discipline, we strengthen the Air Force family to more easily and continuously achieve success, face challenges, and embrace change.