Becoming an Airman: Military child brings resiliency into serving

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Holly Mansfield
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

In 1985, Jon Marti left for Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for Air Force basic military training. Little did he know 29 years later his daughter would be following in his footsteps to become an Airman.

As children, we may look up to our parents for inspiration on who we would like to be when we get older because of sacrifices they make to keep their families running. Military children get the added benefit of seeing their parents make sacrifices to keep the military mission going but are also making sacrifices themselves on the home front.

“Military members are sacrificing so much every day but their children are also,” said Airman 1st Class Alaina Marti, 81st Logistics Readiness Squadron ground transportation dispatcher. “Even the small things like saying you grew up in only one place. I’ve had friends who knew each other since they were born but I can’t say that. Celebrating children is important but celebrating military children is great because it lets them know they are important also.”

During April each year, the Defense Department celebrates Month of the Military Child to pay tribute to all military children for the sacrifices they make while their parent is serving in the military. It’s not too often that a military member gets the chance to celebrate this holiday month with their child while serving with them at the same location. Jon is a rare exception to this as he serves as a lieutenant colonel in the 81st Training Wing alongside his daughter. 

“I was very proud to see her graduate basic training,” said Jon, 81st Diagnostic and Therapeutics Squadron diagnostic radiologist. “Seeing her go there and accomplish so much was amazing to me. I was really happy when I found out that Alaina was being stationed here at Keesler. We were stationed here when she was a child and then again from 2010 to 2012 so she actually really liked it here. It made me feel good she was going somewhere she was familiar with.”

Alaina grew up with her father serving in the military as an enlisted Airman and then as an officer. This meant a lot of moving from base to base even as a small child. Even moving to and from a grand total of 12 installations throughout her childhood couldn’t deter Alaina’s love for trying new things, meeting new people and gaining the resiliency she embodies today as an Airman.

“Growing up with my dad in the military, the constant moving from base to base never bothered me,” said Alaina. “I’ve always been really outgoing so I enjoyed being at new places. In the Air Force we constantly talk about resiliency and growing up the way I did helped me develop that as a young child. I had to mold myself to whatever environment I was put in. Being a military child has helped me get the mindset that I can be resilient no matter what is happening and that is now helping me become a better Airman.”

She got her first memorable taste of the military at just 10 years old while on a trip to the Lackland Air Force Base Commissary.           

“We were going to the commissary and I saw a bunch of basic trainees crossing the road,” said Alaina. “I was so confused! Then fast forward almost 10 years later, I was that basic trainee. That’s me crossing the road. So going through basic training was like my childhood of being a military kid coming full circle. Just being a part of the Air Force now and growing up with it I feel like I am doing something great not only for myself but for other people.”

Alaina and her siblings made sacrifices growing up as most military children do. According to Jon, Month of the Military Child helps remind those serving that their children are making sacrifices at home while they are carrying on the Air Force mission.

“It’s difficult being a military child whether they do well with moves or not,” said Jon. “Having to uproot, make new friends, not knowing where you will be living in three years or whether you will finish high school at your current location can be stressful. I think to promote the fact kids may have a hard time when one or both parents are in the military is a good thing because it brings light to just how much we need to be thinking about their needs.”   

Going from military child to becoming an Airman has helped Alaina reflect on the military service of the person who first inspired her to join the Air Force.

“Growing up as a military child I got to see my dad promote and everything, but I never really understood it,” said Alaina. “Now that I’m older and in the military myself, I can appreciate all of the hard work he has done and the lives he has influenced through being an officer. He inspires Airmen to do things outside from what they normally would do. This has been something I’ve always been able to appreciate in my life and now I’m able to serve and influence others also. I’ve enjoyed my time in the Air Force thus far and I don’t see myself not enjoying it 20 years from now.”