My wife served in the Air Force as a Security Forces (military police) member from June 1999 to November 2002. She was notified in October 2002 that the US would begin its ground invasion of Iraq the following March and that she would deploy there as a participant. She was also due to give birth the following February and would be provided with 6 weeks recuperation before deployment. She voiced her concern with the short turn-around time and was given a choice: deploy or get out. Leaving her newborn, 2 year old daughter, and active duty Air Force husband behind was asking too much of her. The Air Force lost a motivated and talented airman.
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James recently commented on the change in policy of deploying women after pregnancy, which now provides women a full year adjustment before deployment. The change alleviates the strain on “some of our talented airmen [who choose] to leave the Air Force as they struggle to balance deployments and family issues, and this is especially true soon after childbirth.” Today the Air Force is a bit wiser and has taken some long overdue steps toward taking seriously the needs of airmen and their families. I am extremely proud of my wife’s service and it pleases me to know that other women of her caliber of professionalism and technical expertise will now be afforded better opportunities.