We all have a different story. It’s our story, whether we love it or hate it, but it’s something we should be proud of. It’s what makes us unique.
My story is not the typical military child story. Despite being in a military family, I never grew up moving to different cities every few years and having to reintroduce myself to a new set of neighbors with each move. My neighbors watched me grow up from kindergarten to college graduation.
I never had to fret when someone asked where I was from. I had a home – the same home for the past 18 years. I never had to learn to adjust to a new climate, a new house or a new school. I grew up in the same weather and graduated from the same schools as my classmates. Some of my friends from kindergarten walked across the stage with me at college graduation.
Not the typical military family story. Would I change it? Not for the world.
When I was very young, I had lived in five different houses in four different states by the time I was 5 years old. I don’t remember any of it, not even the driveway of each house or the friends I had made. Well, there is one friend I remember from tee-ball that I accidentally gave a concussion to.
I was little and experiencing the usual military child lifestyle but not enough to where it stuck with me and left an impact.
Once my dad was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Destin, Florida, I got to grow up on the beautiful Gulf Coast for 18 years. Spoiled right? I was a beach baby, and I still am. Being used to “shorts weather” year-round, having sand as our “winter snow,” and learning to love and appreciate southern charm from a young age are some of what makes up my home. It’s what I know.
When my dad entered the Air Force, he was assigned as an acquisition officer. He moved from an acquisition project manager to an acquisition program manager and worked at seven different military bases. As a lieutenant colonel, he participated in the development of anti-jam communication radios, advanced air-to-air missiles and F-16 aircraft upgrades. He also worked in foreign military sales and served three deployments while active duty.
Although I never had to deal with sudden moves and lifestyle changes, I did have to deal with deployments and saying goodbye to my dad. I feel for military families who have to go through numerous deployments. Nothing helps the uncertainty or sadness that comes with each deployment go away. What I did gain from these goodbyes was a strong sense of patriotism and pride. Knowing that my dad was serving our country made me so proud to be a part of a military family.
My older brother has been serving in the Air Force since 2012. He is the chief of the Current Operations Branch at the U.S. Strategic Command/J2 at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. He was deployed to Afghanistan three times. I am so proud of him for his selflessness and devotion to our country while serving at six different bases across the world. He continues to inspire young airmen around him.
My sister, on the other hand, worked as a public affairs officer and spokesperson for the Army at Fort Bliss, Texas, as well as for the Department of Veterans Affairs at the Pentagon. She moved to Stuttgart, Germany in 2016 and worked as the chief of media operations at the U.S. Africa Command for four years. She is the one who inspired me to begin a PAO career for the Army.
My father and brother's dedication in protecting our nation and exerting such strength, courage and bravery in fighting for something that many Americans take advantage of every day made me learn to appreciate many things. It made me appreciate the family time I had so much more. It taught me to love our country immensely because the freedom that comes with it is never free. It made me appreciate being a part of a military community and the resources that come with it. It made me appreciate my outlook on life in new ways I had never seen before.
Now that I am working in north Alabama, I can say I understand a few of the challenges that military families face every day – having to learn the routes to get to and from the office without using a GPS, finding a new church, making friends with similar interests, finding the closest Starbucks with the shortest drive-thru line in the mornings, all the things. These are only surface level struggles, but I am still able to see how difficult it can be for a military spouse or child constantly having to adjust to new cities. I’m an adult now, but I give all the respect for what my mom, sister and brother went through for years and at a young age. All my respect.
Working for the military and telling the Army’s story is something that is special to me. I’ve always been a huge supporter of our veterans and paying respect when the national anthem is being played, so getting to be immersed in an environment where everyone else is just as supportive is extremely rewarding. We are all able to work toward our goals together and celebrate our troops in everything we do.
Seeing my dad and brother serve in the Air Force, seeing my mom take care of our family as a military spouse and seeing my sister pursue a career working for the Army, all encourages me. Having the ability to also partake in this Reho family trend and give back to what’s been one of my passions for a very long time is a feeling that can’t be beat. I am so proud to be working at the Security Assistance Command, and I am even more proud to be a part of the greater military family community that comes with my very own unique story.