Walden’s Words: Not a vacation for everyone

Ken Walden, UMR Columnist

Military time is not the same as civilian time.

Having served as an Air Force Chaplain Reservist for over a decade, I continue to enjoy this aspect of my life. It has been one of the best professional decisions in my pastoral ministry.  I served at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina, Selfridge Military Base in Michigan, March Air Force Base in California, and I am currently assigned to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, DC.My military service has been educational, exciting, exhausting, and intense. Upon entering the military environment, I quickly learned that military time is different from civilian time in ways besides the 24-hour clock.

For example, you are probably familiar with those advertisements conveying the military accomplishes more before 9am or 12noon than most people accomplish all day. The military work day does start early. Protecting the United States of America and the country’s interests requires individuals to work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

There are many times military and civilian times are in conflict. Military personnel cannot always attend or participate in their regular civilian activities. There are moments when military personnel have to be absent from family or friends’ birthday gatherings and anniversaries, and other special events. There have been several occasions when military parents have talked to me about not being physically present for special activities in the lives of their loved ones, particularly their children. We have impressive men and women who serve in all our military services. Men and women who understand the sacrifice asked of them.

Summer is usually a time when people take a break from work to rest, relax, and reunite with family and friends. Millions of people go on vacation to the beach, mountains, desert, hiking, or out of the country.

As the summer winds down, we should be mindful that not everyone had a summer vacation.  There are thousands of military personnel that did not get a summer vacation, because they are serving across the globe far away from their family and friends. Those military families were missing an integral part of their gathering and were aware their loved ones serve in areas are isolated, hostile or unstable.

I invite you to join me in including these brave men and women in our thoughts and prayers. I encourage you to attend an activity supporting our military in your local region. You, your family, church, civic organization, or other community group may be able to participate in an activity that conveys appreciation to our military service personnel and their families.

Trust me, your time will be well spent and it can make our military personnel’s time a little bit easier.  It is good when military time and civilian time complement one another!

Ken Walden, UMR Columnist

Ken Walden

Ken Walden is an Air Force Chaplain Reservist and United Methodist Clergyperson. He is the author of Challenges Faced by Iraq War Reservists and Their Families.

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