Happy Father’s Day!

A wise man at DANTES pointed out to me that this Sunday is Father's Day and, to be fair and unbiased, I'd better get busy on a blog about it! I'm abashed to admit that I hadn't really looked at the calendar, and was caught by surprise. Doubly so, as my Dad's birthday is the 12th.. **sigh** I've already fallen back into my “so sorry but your card will be late” modus operandi.

Fathers are often the unsung heroes of family life. If you were to judge American life by the sitcoms on TV, Dads go off to work to support their families, get verbally abused by their spouses and children, are clueless about modern life, and otherwise are never expected to take part in the day-to-day functions of home life. That is as far from the truth as you can get.

As I mentioned in my blog on Mother's Day, my Dad retired from a career in the Air Force. We moved often, and there were times he was absent from our lives, due to isolated tours and business trips. I was at a young age, and I must admit the best part of his traveling was finding out what he brought back for me and my brother. But, I also have memories of the family sitting down at the dinner table, sharing the day's events and dramas. No matter what happened, I knew he always had my back.

I never knew how much that was the case until much later. Skip forward a few years (we'll bypass the tempestuous “teen” years, thank you very much) and I've graduated from high school and am attending University. My life is unfocused and I'm getting tired of working full time and going to school full time, with no time for me. My Dad had always suggested going into the military, but up until now, that was not what I wanted to do. Suddenly, it wasn't such a bad idea after all. Maybe because he didn't push the issue, until it was my own idea. Maybe he's a wise man, after all.

After talking with several recruiters, I decided to join the Navy. People asked my Dad if that bothered him, being career Air Force and all. He would just reply, “No. I'm just glad she's signing up with ANY Service. She's going to get an education and a job, and that's fine with me.” Go, Dad! I chose the Communication field, and went into the Delayed Entry Program, as there wasn't an available school seat for almost a year. So, jump ahead a year: I've quit my job, had my farewell “Anchor's Aweigh” party, and I'm all set to fly off the next day to boot camp in sunny Florida. I go downtown to the Navy recruiter office for final processing and get a load of bricks dumped on me: They very calmly tell me that my medical screening is over a year old and I don't have time to get a new one. I was less than calm - I was devastated! I lost my school seat, my rating, everything. No way was I going to go undesignated to a ship and chip paint. So I told them to stuff it, or words to that effect. This is where my Dad took control, Bless him. He got on the phone to our local Congressman, explained the situation, and asked him what he was going to do about it. Wish I could have heard that conversation! Next thing I know, I get a phone call from the Navy recruiter telling me to come in to pick my rating and they will make it happen. Awesome, Dad! My “knight-in-shining-armour.”

So, why am I sharing another of my family memories? To get you to think of what your Dad (or Dad-like figure) has done for you in getting you where you are today. Without my Dad's intervention, I wouldn't have a wonderful husband and two great sons, had a Naval career that brought me great satisfaction, traveled the world, and, not least, finally gotten that degree I started way back in the beginning of all this. Fathers can be a positive influence in their kid's lives every day by providing instruction, guidance, support, and advice (not always asked for or heeded!). Or, by making that all-important life-changing phone call, if need be. So, to all the Dads out there that may not get the recognition, respect or honor that they deserve: “I salute you!” Now, get out there and fire up the grill. I feel a BBQ coming on.

And to my Daddy: thanks and I love you! You may not remember everything you did for me, but I do. And that's what really matters. Virtual hug!

For valuable education resources, check out the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Web site

Nancy Hamilton, DANTES Editor