Summer is bittersweet time

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Thomas Couture
  • 341st Space Wing Judge Advocate
The arrival of summer, normally a joyous time identified with nicer weather, the end of school and family vacations, is also a bittersweet time for Air Force members. Bitter-sweet because it signals the arrival of another "season," one unique to the military: the PCS season. I was reminded of this the other day when, driving up Gumwood, I watched as my son said goodbye to one of his best friends the night before he and his family departed Malmstrom. Even though I wasn't immediately aware of what was happening, from down the street, my son's slumped shoulders and red face told me the whole story. I made sure I gave him a hug and reminded him of all the ways he could stay in touch with his buddy and all the new friends he would make. But it's hard to tell your 12 year old that he may never see a best friend again. In the military we do it all the time. 

Few civilian careers require such a frequency of movement, or turnover in management and employees, as does military service. Of course, our kids are not the only ones who experience such a sense of loss. I imagine many of you have experienced similar feelings, especially during change of command season which is a rite of passage for members and their families. During this turnover long-established relationships are brought to an abrupt end as friends and colleagues head off to their next assignments. Severing these professional and sometimes personal bonds can be difficult, especially when we all know we may never work together again. And these feelings aren't limited to the military. At Malmstrom, like many bases, we are fortunate to have close relationships with our community supporters. Although not rare for a departing member to return to duty here, our local friends recognize a change of command signifies the potential end of a close relationship they have come to appreciate. Sometimes local supporters really don't want you to leave and try to encourage you to retire just so you'll stay here! I guess that's one way to know you've really made a friend. 

Fortunately, all is not sadness. Just as we know that departing members are continuing their own career or life path, we also experience the excitement and anticipation that comes from meeting new friends and colleagues who will challenge us in different ways, allowing us to become better, more effective Airmen. In fact, I see all these career-long relationships as a patchwork quilt each friend we make adds his or her unique scrap of cloth to, enriching the whole of our military experience. While military service requires us to part company with friends on a regular basis, we are also lucky our service allows us to form relationships with people whom we would otherwise never have met. We can also be proud of our ability to thrive despite these changes, making us stronger and better able to accomplish our mission. 

So, like I told my son, cherish the memories of the friends you've made and look forward to the friends you will make. In closing, let me bid a fond farewell to those who have left us; and to those new arrivals, welcome to Malmstrom!