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95th Training Division (IET) From the Commander

Family Focused

Brig. Gen. Susie Kuilan
CG, 95th Training Division (IET)

I’m going to steal some of my own words from a speech I gave recently to some soon-to-be commissioned second lieutenants from Henderson State University (Arkadelphia, AR) ROTC Program. I was asked to speak at their end-of-year awards banquet. Most of the graduates from that program are going into the National Guard or Reserve so I felt that I needed to have a discussion with them about balance – balancing the Reserve Component mission with new jobs/careers for most of them and family life.

When you are a member of the Reserve Component, you generally must learn how to juggle all these elements and many of us are very successful at it. To juggle these elements (the three-balls being juggled are military, civilian job, and family), we must always remember what our priorities are – and that they are not always the same and that they will often, as they should, change.

We always say that our families should be our priority. That holds true most of the time. Sometimes, however, just as you will, I have to prioritize the military – maybe I’m about to deploy. Maybe my Soldiers need me to sign all that paperwork. Regardless – there are times when we have to prioritize the military.

Other times you may have to prioritize your civilian employment – maybe there’s a big project that has to be finished or you are up for a promotion or you’re trying to get settled into your first “real” job. 

Then of course we have our families and personal lives. They should always be our priority, but we should realize that they can’t always be THE priority. I missed my son’s entire 12th year when I was deployed to Iraq. I’ve also missed more wedding anniversaries than I’ve celebrated with my husband – however, when it’s time for them to be the #1 priority, they are. For example, my son asked me when I returned from Iraq if I could please not miss any of his football games because those were the most important events in his life. So I didn’t. I missed a Division activation ceremony to be at a game. But you know what? My executive officer could stand in that formation as easily as I could, and no one would remember who was there a few years later. But to this day – my son – who is now 29, remembers that I was there for every single game.

It’s called a line in the sand – and you must all determine what those lines are and stick to them. As I tell my Soldiers, you can’t draw those lines so broadly that you miss everything in the military, but everyone has to have those lines that they don’t cross. Gen. McConville, the current Chief of Staff of the Army, has a continuum that he discusses in terms of most important/can’t miss family events such as funerals, births, weddings versus birthdays, and anniversaries, and then puts them on a line with Army events such as deployments (which can’t be missed) to out-of-ordinary training events that have to be placed on a different line than ordinary training events – some are a higher priority than others – just as events for you must be. For example, anniversaries are not a top priority for my husband and I, but for my deputy and his wife they are a top priority. So he has missed battle assembly more than once because of his anniversary. Again, only you can make those decisions. But we must all realize, as most of us know by now, that being part of the Reserve Component is NOT a one weekend a month, two weeks in the summer commitment any longer. More will be required of us but we’ve all proven that we can do this and more.

Now I’m going to end the way I end almost every video that I put on Facebook because it’s important – take care of your battle buddies, take care of your loved ones, but mostly take care of yourself.

–Ironman 6 out.


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