Edwards Family Update, September 2016

July 30th marked the date of the long-awaited return of Major Christopher W. Edwards, Environmental Health Branch, Wright-Patterson AFB (WPAFB), Ohio. Waiting to greet him at the airport following his seven months’ deployment to Kuwait were his wife of almost 19 years, Maria; several longtime friends; and co-workers from his unit—all very welcome faces, indeed.

Appreciating garden-raised food

“My first ‘guilty pleasure meal’ upon my return home had to wait for a shower and some much needed rest,” he said. “When I left in January for my deployment, there were no leaves on the trees and our garden was definitely in hibernation mode. So, being back in the middle of summer, my first meal was home cooked and featured green beans, tomatoes, and several varieties of chili peppers that Maria grew in our garden. For breakfast, I had baby bell peppers from the Medical Clinic Garden Center and banana peppers from our garden stuffed with scrambled eggs and sausage. Rice and Maria’s green beans were also part of the meal. Homegrown food simply can’t be beat and it certainly tastes better than deployment food. It is great to be home.”

Importance of staying connected with family during deployment

Stating that relationships require communication to cultivate growth and strengthen, Major Edwards emphasized the necessity of making plans to stay in touch with Maria while he was in Kuwait. “Communication is key to a successful transition to post-deployment normality because the challenges of being on deployment are great. It’s not easy for those who stay home, either, as they await the deployed spouse’s return. For me and Maria, being able to catch up by talking on the phone kept us close. We also took the time to develop a network of supportive people to keep us motivated. We are extremely thankful to everyone who provided for us and helped us through this difficult time.”

Both spouses committed to volunteer
efforts in their communities

While Major Edwards was in Kuwait, Maria provided hundreds of volunteer hours at the USO, Family Readiness Center and the WPAFB Medical Clinic Garden Center. She was also able to travel to El Salvador to visit family.

For his part, Major Edwards was recognized during his deployment as the “332d Expeditionary Air Wing Field Grade Officer of the Month” for March. The honor came from his efforts assisting Chaplain Matthew Gallo in Kuwait in establishing several vital and needed local community relationships that did not previously exist. As part of a larger collective, they donated time and support to the Kuwait Evangelical Church; distributed goods to the less fortunate; and helped to combat poverty, human trafficking, and provided for basic living needs. He also supported the Kuwait Association for the Care of Children in Hospitals (KAACH) for the Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base community.

“This deployment provided me with an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate who I am and the importance I place on making a difference,” Major Edwards said. “I think supporting and defending America involves a lot more than ‘guns and bullets’; it involves the open hand of friendship and the provision for changing the way we view ourselves and the way others see us
as Americans.

“While I volunteered at every opportunity that presented itself to keep myself occupied,” he continued, “I hope the impact continues to be amplified both by continued efforts of those in the field and the reciprocal efforts from the local families who may one day be able to pay it forward. There is an enormous sense of gratification in knowing that I’ve helped someone in need and through concerted effort, helped a great many.”

Staying fit in the desert meant running after dark

Running helped Major Edwards pass the time and he racked up 600 miles in spite of the extreme desert heat. He said he ran at night a lot of the time, although he also had opportunities for daytime runs sponsored by organizations at home. “Many of the sponsors provided free participation T-shirts and/or glow sticks for night-time runs,” he said. “Of course, staying properly hydrated was always the challenge! Our local gym provided a free towel for every 300 miles completed, so I came home with two.”

Major Edwards is training for the USAF Marathon this month. “Inspiring others is part of the military spirit; to set a positive, healthy example for others to follow enhances the quality and enjoyment of everyday living!” he said.

Continuing a healthy FitFamilies lifestyle in retirement

After more than 20 years of military service, Major Edwards has announced his decision to retire. “Maria and I look forward to pursuing a continued healthy USAF FitFamilies lifestyle long after our days on Active Duty come to an end,” he said. “Both the local USO and the Medical Center Garden Clinic are going to provide many hours of volunteer time to keep us occupied. In the next few months, we also plan on traveling to see both longtime friends and family. Being in the military for over 20 years has provided us with an appreciation for seeking new opportunities!”


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