Updated: Jul 16
Nearly 35,000 men and women graduate from Air Force basic training every year. Recruit graduation is the culmination of weeks of physical and mental training and the most significant accomplishment in their life. Unfortunately, many recruits have no family members who attend graduation. However, there is a way for families attending graduation to fill the void for these recruits. A tradition called 'Adopting an Airman.'
Adopting an Airman requires no formal process or approval from the command. The process is simply coordinating with your recruit by letting them know there is an open invitation for another recruit to spend liberty with their family. One recruit mom chose to adopt an Airman, and the decision not only changed her life but the life of her recruit daughter and the adopted Airman.
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Dania, a recruit mother, decided to adopt an airman. "Adopting an Airman was a great way to provide emotional support and celebrate my daughter and the other Airman's resilient effort and success."
Dania's daughter, Daylin, welcomed her fellow Airman to her family by tapping her out at graduation.
Both mom and daughter agree that the adopted Airman was genuinely grateful that she was able to celebrate her graduation despite her family not being able to attend. We felt blessed that we could adopt her and make her feel a part of our family.
The Adopt-and-Airman program is not restricted to recruit graduation. Various military bases, such as Minot Air Force Base, offer local families the opportunity to be matched with new Airmen relocating to the base.
Alicia Richards didn't know anyone when she arrived at Minot Air Force Base in July 2021 for her first military assignment after Air Force basic training and technical school. (Minot Daily News)
Eloise Ogden/MDN Master Sgt. Asua Rose, right, contact person for the Adopt-An-Airman program, and Airman 1st Class Alicia Richards, who has participated in the program, are shown by the 5th Bomb Wing Headquarters building at Minot Air Force Base.
When Richards, now with the rank of Airman first class, heard about the Adopt-An-Airman program when she was going through First-Term Airmen's class at Minot AFB, she decided to participate in the program.
"I figured might as well. It might be fun," Richards said. She was matched with a Minot couple and said it was a good thing to do and a benefit to her to get to know the area with her adopted family.
The decision to join the military is often made based on tradition or educational and health benefits. Others choose a military career to find family and community. Adopting an Airman is a way for families to support a young person's desire to do something bigger than themselves. And at the same time, provide much-needed hugs after graduation.
Want to adopt an Airman? The first step is to write your recruit and let him or her know your idea. Make sure you rent a car large enough for all of you, and finally, take lots of pictures and videos to share with the Airman and their family.
*Minot Daily News https://www.minotdailynews.com/life/arts-entertainment/2022/06/airman-says-adopt-an-airman-program-beneficial/