This time of year most of us are trying to nail down our holiday plans, and it can be complicated. If we are newly married, do we go to one side of the family at Thanksgiving and the other side of the family at Christmas? Or do we have Thanksgiving lunch with my family and dinner with her family? If we have grandchildren, do they travel to our home, or do we go to them? If we have children in more than one state, where do we go so we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings?
Once all that is settled, we decide on the menu. Do we cook the turkey or do we order it from a professional? Do we even have turkey? What about side dishes, desserts? (Our pastor once asked a group of youngsters what special dishes they have for Thanksgiving, and one young person said, “My mom drinks a lot of wine.”)
Then we have to answer the big question: Do we eat our Thanksgiving meal before the Dallas Cowboys kick off in the afternoon, or do we eat during the game, or do we wait until the game is over and dine together?
But, no matter the combinations and permutations, ultimately we come together, enjoy each other’s company and give thanks for all the good things in our lives.
I’m sure Tony Brych and his family will be making the same decisions as the rest of us, but there is another day this month that’s meaningful to him –– Veteran’s Day. You see, Tony is part of a team that decides military troop deployment literally around the world.
Tony is very familiar with the military and troop deployment. He served more than 20 years in the Air Force before retiring in 2011. He did two stints in Korea and one in the Netherlands, as well as being deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Tony and his team of six work for the Air Force in a civil service capacity. It’s their job to fulfill overseas requirements for the military. They don’t pick the person –– that’s the job of military commanders — but they do decide how many men and women go where. It’s a balancing act because you don’t want troop burnout. Tony’s group also helps by offering suggestions on how to make deployment an easier assignment. They certainly want to make sure commanders can carry out their mission at home. It’s a balancing act.
They work for Global Strike Command to send troops across the globe. Those troops go to Qatar, Africa (Djbouti), Guam, Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait –– just about everywhere. Those 2,400 troops come from Barksdale Air Force Base, Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota and F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. The decisions Tony and his team make today are implemented two years from now. That’s how far in advance they work.
Tony takes his job seriously. It’s important work. Of course, anyone who works has a meaningful job. If you work, you are contributing to society, contributing to the overall health of the community. But some jobs do come with more weight. Tony understands the magnitude of his decisions.
Even if the team doesn’t directly send a certain person overseas, it still weighs on their mind. “It gets harder –– I’ve been here long enough to make friends on the base, and all of a sudden I’m over at their home mowing their yard because the husband has been deployed. I care about them and care about their families and I understand they are gone. We also do care packages for those overseas. They are cared for the best we can, considering they are thousands of miles away. We never stop caring.”
Part of joining the military is understanding that you will be deployed at some point during your time of service. That is a given. But it doesn’t make it any easier when you are away from family and friends for months and months at a time.
This holiday season, maybe we can take just a minute to remember all those military personnel away from their families. I know Tony will.