Air Force dad "saving the country every day"

Trey Rice sleeps holding a doll with a photo of his father Staff Sgt. Tony Rice June 11, 2013. Hug-A-Hero dolls are used to help children cope with the stresses of seperation while parents are deployed or away.
(courtesy photo)

Trey Rice sleeps holding a doll with a photo of his father Staff Sgt. Tony Rice June 11, 2013. Hug-A-Hero dolls are used to help children cope with the stresses of seperation while parents are deployed or away. (courtesy photo)

HURLBURT FIELD Fla.-- -- What makes a military father different from every other father out there?

Is it the sacrifice of time spent away from home, the sometimes long hours spent working through exercises and real world conflict? Or is it the unfaltering commitment to freedom for all, combined with the drive and necessity to provide for one's family?

A military father is someone who realizes the sacrifices required for freedom and makes them willingly.

As a military father, I feel it's all these things. As we approach Father's Day, I receive gifts proclaiming how great of a father I am, adorned with smiley faces, rainbows and even some with portraits of me or the entire family. My children constantly remind me that Father's Day is around the corner, while they squirm with excitement and anticipation.

They already plan to make breakfast and I've received several handcrafted Father's Day cards. Although it seems my company and time is all that's required for my family to be satisfied.

The fact is my children are well aware of the sacrifices of wearing the uniform. I've already deployed twice, and I am preparing to go again soon. I've explained to them the reasons I serve: I do everything for them and their future. I see the look in their eyes and the admiration they have for the uniform. To them the uniform instantly demands respect because it's what they see me wear.

When I asked my daughter how she felt about me being in the military, she said, "Daddy I like you being in the military because you save the country every day."

The realization that my children view me as the savior of the country simply because I serve is much more gratifying than admiration alone.

So to all the other fathers out there who serve in the military, I salute you for your sacrifice and dedication to your family and country.

The work we do around the globe, working long hours, spending time away from family, and the everlasting commitment to being a strong leader and example for our children is more than enough gratification for me. Knowing my son and daughters look up to me because I chose to raise my right hand is the best Father's Day gift I could ever receive.