Exploring Team Tyndall: Military spouses

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Lyca Steelman
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Team Tyndall is characterized by various groups of people, active-duty military personnel, friends, significant others, contractors and many more, all of which contribute to one team, one fight.  Established in 1984, Military Spouse Appreciation Day is observed the Friday before Mother’s Day each year to honor the unique contributions and sacrifices they make in addition to that of the serving member.

Abigail Kongaika, Master Sgt. Jaypaul Gaubault and McKinzee Crow, each proud spouses and members of Team Tyndall, shared a few words about their experience as a military spouse.

“I think it’s important to note this community because it is also a whole separate lifestyle for them too,” said Crow, a spouse to an active-duty Company Grade Officer. “Having a day and services to appreciate those spouses and represent them truly means a lot.”

In recognition of the 2024 MSA Day, the 325th Force Support Squadron’s Military and Family Readiness Center hosted an event that featured a base-wide tour, lunch, discussion panel and information fair to honor military spouses.

“The event was very informative and a great way to connect military spouses with each other,” said Marina Mitchell, a spouse to an active-duty Junior Enlisted Airmen. “It means a lot to me as a spouse to have events like this that recognize us and that show appreciation for us and the sacrifices we make.”

Team Tyndall further demonstrates its appreciation for this community through different initiatives. Recently, Col. George Watkins, 325th Fighter Wing commander, signed a proclamation emphasizing the importance of military spouses as integral members of the military family. The Tyndall Spouses Club Board of Directors also awarded two military spouses with scholarships totaling $3,250.

Navigating the military lifecycle, Kongaika, 325th Comptroller Squadron non-appropriated funds financial analyst and wife of Col. Robert Kongaika, 325th Maintenance Group commander, revealed that if she and her husband anticipate a short stay at a location, they adapt multiple facets of their lives, from job pursuits to home décor choices. Likewise, they meticulously weigh potential scenarios of an extended stay, especially if it aligns with their child’s high school graduation or senior year.

Despite challenges, she also expressed, “Military life is different in a good way. You are meeting a ton of different people… It is more of a community and family. For assignment relocations, I look at it as gaining friends and getting to know the area. If we are only here for a few years, then let’s travel. We make the most out of our assignments, whether it be serving at church, getting new friends or even using that time if you are in a remote area to finish your school.”

Building onto the perspectives of military spouses, dual-military couples face unique hurdles, such as consecutive deployments, childcare arrangements, communication dynamics or simply work-life balance. Gaubault, 325th MXG development and instruction element chief and a dual-military spouse, underscored the qualities needed in such of a relationship: patience, understanding and flexibility.

“Because she is in the military, she understands sometimes my job might take priority or sometimes I have to understand her job might have to take priority… [When I was a Tech Sgt. for instance,] when it came to childcare, with the kid being sick, [it was a matter of] who is going to be the one to go get their kid [from school]… that flexibility and comprise had to come into play,” said Gaubault.

Military spouses contribute service and leadership in areas including community involvement, education, culture, recreation and more, which can help create a resilient military force.

“I would say the stereotypes [surrounding military spouses] are because of a lack of information and a few bad apples poison[ing] a bunch, kind of deal,” said Gaubault. “In my experience, military spouses have come through in more ways than I can count. Especially, when I came back from my deployment and had so many things available… that made me feel welcomed.”

Crow also explained, military spouses contribute to the fight by cultivating an inclusive environment that fosters a sense of community, stability at home to enable mission-oriented Airmen and advocating for policies and programs that support military families. This ensures they are equipped with the necessary resources to thrive despite challenges they face.

Across the Department of Defense, military services possess various initiatives that acknowledge some of the challenges military spouses encounter, such as supporting military spouse employment through offering reimbursement for license and certification costs resulting from relocations. Kongaika and Gaubault said initiatives such as these looks after military spouses and recognizes how they ultimately rebuild their lives within a new environment.

“Build your Air Force family and create your community because it will last forever,” said Gaubault. “I still talk to people at my first base and that was 17 years ago, build your own community. Find your close-knit group to support each other through the journey without draining your own cup [is crucial].”