From an Air Force Brat, With Love: An Open Letter to Military Service Members

As Armed Forces Day (May 19th) creeps closer and closer, various local businesses promote special “military discounts”, downtown San Antonio prepares for a river strewn with patriotic colors, and we once again try our darndest to find an adequate way to say “thank you” to our men and women of service.

Image Courtesy of United Way

The truth? Try as we may, words, recognition, and even parades pale in comparison to the praise and recognition you deserve.

And so, here I sit: blankly in front of a computer screen, absolutely flabbergasted about how to properly express a simple “thank you.”

Perhaps it’s because military life is far from simple. And while many of the mottos and guiding concepts can be summed up by stately phrases like “Semper Fi” and “This We’ll Defend”, these noble principles require complex, grit-your-teeth-style realities of sweat, tears, and sacrifice.

I should know. I grew up on military bases, ears attuned to the whoosh of airplanes, constantly surrounded by the everyday heroes that call themselves our military personnel.

Now, as a civilian adult, I’ve come to truly understand the privilege and honor it was to have had these experiences, courtesy of an Air Force dad, a military-spouse-mom, and a future-Academy-cadet brother.

And so today, I’d like to try my best to say “Thank you,” knowing full well that I will fail to capture the proper level of gratitude.

A Navy color guard unit parades the colors during Navy Day at the Alamo as part of Fiesta in downtown San Antonio. ( U.S. Navy photo/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jacquelyn D. Childs)

To Retirees & Veterans:

Thank you for your sacrifices, your wisdom, and the promises you’ve kept.

Although your commission may have only been two, ten, or twenty years of your life, we know that “being in the military” is (really) a lifetime commitment in more ways than one. Your identity has been shaped by rank and your past by post and assignment.

For the limbs you’ve lost, the trauma you’ve faced, for the bravery you’ve shown: you swore solemn oaths and made radical decisions to keep us, our parents, our grandparents, and our children safe...and we thank you.

An AF BMT Parade at JBSA-Lackland. (Image Courtesy of 37th Training Wing Warhawks - Official)

To Active Duty Members, (& Reservists):

We want you to know: your unending bravery and continual sacrifice does not go unnoticed.

As the daughter of an Air Force officer, I have seen so many of you head into the unknown, never once complaining and never once expressing fear.

Whether you are enduring long hours at sea, logging thousands of flight hours, or sitting for what seems like an eternity at a desk (cracking codes or filing paperwork), we commend you for your hard work.

For those of you who had to miss a milestone (from labor to graduation), thank you for accepting second-rate so we can have first-best.

For those of you on the field, thank you for giving up your time, limbs, health, safety, friendships, and vulnerability so we can retain our freedom and peaceful sleep.

Graduation day at Lackland: Airmen carry state flags during Basic Military Training graduation. ( U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jack Braden

To Future Members (both in-training & aspiring)

Your decision to devote your future to your country is remarkable. Your dreams are to defend others rather than defend your own self-preservation...and that, beyond anything, is the definition of selflessness.

Thank you for being brave, for giving up your chance for “normalcy”, for trading your college sweatpants for a uniform, and for never, never, ever getting enough sleep.

Thank you for sacrificing hot showers, days off with your family, your favorite TV shows, your sense of control, and your ability to know “where’s next”.

You will be the leaders of our nation, and we are humbled by your commitment.

(A few oh-so-90's photos of my Air-Force dad with his kiddos)

To Spouses, Parents, & Families

Thank you for being the quiet strength behind the uniform.

Thank you for understanding the drive towards selfless service, for encouraging bravery and sharing the load when your father, husband, mother, sister, brother, or wife has nothing left to give.

To military wives who have suffered through labor alone, to military husbands who have played the role of “single dad” for longer than comfortable...for serving our country with phone calls and plates of spaghetti, for seemingly unwavering patience (and the courage to push forward even when it does).

Thank you for sharing your loved ones with us...for often going unappreciated and unrecognized. You are the very reason your loved ones fight to protect our country.

Although I still don’t believe words can even remotely express the proper level of gratitude I have for our military...I hope that, for just a moment, you felt the sort of recognition you deserve.

All my best,

A San Antonio Military Brat

Gour Maker, a trainee at basic military training, receives an “Airman’s Coin” at the Coin Ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (Image Courtesy U.S. Air Force/Dillon Parker

Known far and wide as “Military City USA”, San Antonio is home to one of the nation's largest active and retired military populations. Over 130,000 servicemen and women head to the Alamo City to train each year at Joint Base San Antonio...a fact that does not go unnoticed by our city on Armed Forces Day. Starting at 5:00 PM on May over 25 elaborate floats will make their way down the River Walk for the Armed Forces River Parade. Head downtown and watch the patriotic floats make their way through downtown!

And, if you are a military member considering an off-base living situation, we’d love to be of help in any way. Whether through our exclusive  San Antonio Buyer’s Guide resourcesour expert agents, or our top-notch lenders, let us help you find the perfect San Antonio neighborhood.

Thank you for your service! 

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