Taking care of personal, military families Published Aug. 11, 2006 By Lt. Col. Troy McGilvra 31st Medical Support Squadron Aviano Air Base, Italy -- Another school year is about to begin. I'm amazed by how quickly summer vacations go by. As we ready the kids for school, let's take a moment to think about how preparing our families for a new school year is similar to maintaining the readiness of our Air Force family. Both require attention to health issues, instilling a positive attitude toward others and caring, compassionate leadership. Some of the first requirements schools ask of new students is their updated immunization records and a new sports physical. As a concerned parent, I'm extremely interested in preventing illness in my family. I don't want to see my kids need to vist the doctor for something that could have easily been prevented by an immunization or a physical. As a commander, I have the same concern for the members of my squadron and the rest of the Air Force family. Each member is too important to be away from the unit for a preventable illness. That's why it's important to stay up on immunizations and accomplish a PHA every year. While you're getting the kids immunizations for the school year, check on your immunization status, too. After health concerns, the next important aspect of getting ready for school is to prepare an attitude for success. The school year begins with an entire set of new relationships and a clean slate. Meeting a new teacher and classmates provides the challenges of getting along with others from different backgrounds and cultures. It's important for students to have a healthy respect for individuals and tolerances for everybody's differences. The other great thing about a new academic year is it provides a new foundation to build a fresh start. This concept is much the same in our Air Force family. As we PCS or gain new supervisors and commanders, we too have to respect the differences we all bring to the mission and combine our talents into a unified team. We also have a clean slate as we begin new positions. Now is the time to take this opportunity to obtain the goals you have for yourself and your career. Having a positive attitude for the future and respecting individuals around you will go a long way to guiding our Air Force families to mission success. Finally, caring and compassionate leadership is required in both the personal and professional Air Force family environment. I challenge each of us to care too much. Often we are too busy getting the job done and taking care of the demands of daily living to build relationships. The nomadic lifestyle of the military puts our children in the difficult situation of having to make new friendships each time we PCS. A caring and compassionate understanding of this problem and your active assistance in helping your children meet others will go a long way in getting them adapted to a new school and base. The same goes for our Air Force family. It's important to welcome newcomers to the unit and introduce them into the community. We all can do more every day to take care of each other, make sure everyone is aware of the area's unique safety risks, opportunities for off-duty recreation and lessons learned in adapting to the new environment. Daring to care too much will help ensure all newcomers are welcomed. The start of the new school year provides an opportunity for a new focus. My question to you is, "What can you do today to help your personal family and your Air Force family get ready and stay ready?" Taking care of your personal and family health issues, ensuring a positive outlook for the future and being a caring, compassionate leader will go a long way to building a sense of community. This can also keep us on track toward both our personal and Air Force family success.