Mission First, Family Always Published Nov. 8, 2010 By Airman 1st Class Rashaunda Williams Public Affairs Swanton, OH -- Being a mother is a very stressful job. Add on a set of ABUs and it is even harder. Military families experience situations foreign to civilian families. It is the American dream to have a big house 2.5 kids and a successful career. But someone needs to protect those freedoms and luxuries. As a military mom your job does not end at 1630. There are soccer games to attend, homework to check and a household to maintain. Mission first is our main priority; we knew that when we took the oath of enlistment. That being said, are we not allowed to experience the joys of motherhood? Women equate to 20% of all branches of the military according to http://usmilitary.about.com/od/womeninthemilitary/Women_in_the_United_States_Military.htm. Air Force Personnel Center officials at Randolph AFB in Texas recently published the quarterly demographics report offering a snapshot of the service's active-duty and civilian force, as of Sept. 30, 2005. Today 60.8% of the Air Force is married 20,366 of that are dual military households and 135,922 single parents. For families with both parents in the military their challenges are compounded. Working long hours and the high cost of child care is bound to create a stressful situation. All of these factors apply strain on marriages, not to mention the affect it has on the children. DOD instruction 1342.19 ensures dual military and single service members have a family care plan on file for future deployments. National Association of Child Care Resource and referral agency mission is to help those who serve in the military find and afford child care that suits their unique needs. Through several innovative civilian/military efforts between the Services, NACCRRA and Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) are building the quality and capacity of child care throughout the country (www.naccrra.org/military). The website www.sittercitywww.sittercity is also a helpful DOD funded resource for finding babysitters in your area. In "Marriage under Fire," an article about military couples in Ladies Home Journal, the divorce rate among military couples has risen 3% since 9/11. With the rise of divorces and suicides affecting the military, DOD has funded many programs to help maintain the families of its service members. Military One Source provides free confidential counseling, online, face to face or over the phone. Ohio family readiness program, www.ong.ohio.gov/family, provides information on camps, child care and seminars available in our area. For details on registration for marriage enrichment seminars and single service member retreats made possible by the Joint Services Support Portal, check out their website www.jointservicessupport.org The Wingman concept is just as important in the operational air force as it was in basic training. It's a great idea to establish a support system among military moms. Sometimes it is necessary to have alone time. Rotating play dates is essential to alleviating stress. The YMCA's Operation Purple is a camp for military kids offered during the summer. They also provide families of deployed service members free memberships and Child Care. As a new member of the 180th and a single mother, I had no idea how challenging it would be, not just for me but for all military moms in my situation. It takes a lot of hard work and organization but it is definably obtainable. As service members we are trained to adapt and overcome any and all challenges. Military moms are of a different caliber and I salute them for all their tenacity and sacrifices for our country.