JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
Since the United States Air Force was established in 1947, the core value of "Service Before Self" has always been a key for Airmen in making mission capabilities a success. For moms however, that core value not only includes the needs of their military, but also their families.
"The biggest challenge is striking that balance between work and being a mom," said Maj. Lindsay Andrew, 12th Training Squadron director of student affairs and mother of twins. "Being a mom has made me a better leader and a better officer, it has forced me to prioritize better and bring a new level of understanding to my position.
"Now the challenges that a lot of our new Airmen and lieutenants experience as parents, I have personally been through," she said. "That equips me with the opportunity to be a better mentor and have a way to help them. I think it's good for them to see their leaders have kids and know it's possible to do both."
Becoming a parent while serving also gives personnel the opportunity to utilize facilities and services they might not have otherwise known about.
"You get to meet more people in the organizations the Air Force has," said Maj. Sabrina Peterson, 12th TRS director of staff. "With everything from the Child Development Center to the Military Family Readiness Center, you become more and more in tune with as a parent, opposed to being a single Airman. Becoming a parent has gotten me more involved in using those agencies that have programs I didn't know existed before. As a leader that also allows me to direct anybody else along those paths."
The Air Force has recently worked to assist new moms and provide a smoother transition into parenthood.
"The added emphasis the Air Force has added on women and parents is great," Peterson said. "Just in my career, we went from having six weeks of maternity leave to 12 weeks and the six months to take a PT test to one year. Those changes were a huge impact for a lot of moms, so the fact that the Air Force is taking those steps for moms is definitely helpful."
Although the Air Force has taken those steps, working under Air Education and Training Command has also been helpful to pilots like Andrew and Peterson.
"I'm really thankful for being in AETC and having leadership that is so supportive of families," Andrew said. "The CDC is great here because it works within our duty day, but there are some parents that have to make it work because they work past that or are gone for long periods at a time, so my hat's off to those parents. It means the world to be able to have the flexibility I do."
Despite the various efforts the military and leadership establishes to make parenthood easier, challenges still arise.
"It's hard," Andrew said. "I've been an instructor on three different platforms, have an engineering degree from the Air Force Academy, went through Undergraduate Pilot Training and have a master's degree in business. Breastfeeding my twins for a year is the hardest, most challenging thing I've ever done in my life, hands down."