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Antonio AB Mataban

Air Force retiree

Nov. 6, 2012 - 03:55PM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 6, 2012 - 03:55PM  |  
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A deafening displeasure came from my wife and three boys when I proposed the idea of entering the service. I wanted a different venue to pursue my profession while redeeming my family life. The demands of my work kept me from spending a quality fatherly and husbandly life with them. Their protests were not different from those voiced by many others who barely knew of the social, professional and community dignity of being in the service. I explained that this country had been benevolent to us and a couple of years' tour might enable us to repay some of it back. It would also give us an opportunity to establish a less arduous and more cohesive lifestyle while enabling me to be professionally fulfilled.

My family's fears were promptly overturned after our first six months on assignment. I found time to be with all of them. The boys appreciated their environment better and made friends with other dependents easier, as their cultural backgrounds were never an issue. They vigorously participated in all scholastic and extracurricular activities with aplomb. My wife was readily accepted into the wives' social circles and quickly learned the intricacies of family services volunteer work.

Our family forums before we entered the services were infrequent. These changed completely. Dinner evenings became family forums, which detailed events that transpired on that day, and what may happen on the next. My professional satisfaction could not be counted in terms of dollars, which included ascendancy in other duties over time while in uniform.

A family conference held shortly before our tour in service was due to conclude made us realize how this new lifestyle had enriched our outlook. After learning that an extension would involve accepting a move elsewhere, especially overseas, a chorus of approval was more thunderous than the initial protest. Our assignments to Europe and Asia enabled all three boys to experience broader challenges. They adapted to and learned more practical lessons, which included acquiring the local language and culture. These underwrote their pledge to join and serve the flag after college (via ROTC) and follow a similar move that pressed this family to join in. Thus did this prepare them well for their discipline and odyssey in their present lives.

Our term in the service also prepared us to resume our responsibilities for our comrades through the VA for another 10 years after we retired from the Air Force. Changing to the military life couldn't have been more rewarding. We never had any regrets throughout our entire military career. In contrast, some colleagues who never tasted the ideals of having been in uniform often voiced apologetic feelings.

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