In anticipation of Armed Services Day on May 16, 2015, the staff at iAt have asked those who have served or who are currently serving in the military to share their stories with our readers. This week we will feature five different people who have all served at different times and in different conflicts. Our hope is that it would bring awareness to our readers, but would also point God out in the midst of serving others in this unique way. Today we feature the story of Michael and Jessica Kiss.
Please give a brief description of what you do in the military. Where do you serve? How long? What do you do?
I am currently in the Air Force. My current position is military entrance processing liaison in Omaha, Nebraska. It is with the recruiting services. My task is to oversee future airmen who qualify for the Air Force. I have been in recruiting for five years.
Prior to recruiting, I was an electrician in the Air Force. During that time, I was stationed in Alaska, South Dakota, and New Mexico. I went on four deployments, two were in Iraq and two were in Afghanistan.
What has given you the greatest joy in serving? What has been the hardest part?
The greatest joy is being able to serve our great nation. We all have a choice as to a career path. However, I felt my calling was to enlist in the Air Force. I have learned many life lessons which have strengthened my character. Also, I get the opportunity to lead/mentor airmen to be the best at what we do.
The hardest part of the Air Force is being away from family. For my third deployment, I received notice that we would be deploying at a moment’s notice. At that time my wife Jessica was pregnant with our first child. When the time came to be deployed, we were told that we would be building a tent city in Afghanistan for the Marines. We did not have a clue as to when we would return home. While we were in Afghanistan busy building the tent city, I would call home every time I had a chance and check on Jessica. Our team was a month into the deployment and had just completed a day’s work when I made the phone call that would change my life. I can still hear Jessica’s voice on the other end telling me that I was a dad. When I heard that Kade was born healthy, I broke down because I knew that both were okay. That was my biggest fear, to have something happened to them while I was half a world away. Since then we have had two other healthy boys, Grayson and Bennett. My current job does not make me deployable, so I was lucky enough to be able to be there for their births. I enlisted to get to serve and be deployed as needed. Having a family is the greatest thing in the world, and while there are many times that I would still like to deploy, I know that right now I have been called to serve stateside.
What is one thing you’d like non-military people to know about serving in the military?
One thing I would like non-military people to know is that while yes, we are part of the military, it doesn’t mean that we can’t live our lives to the fullest. Yes, I had to deploy, and I have traveled to many different places, but I still have been able to reach my own personal goals. I have learned a great trade, been given the wonderful option to further my education, and if it was not for the Air Force, I would have never met my wife.
How have you experienced God’s presence while serving?
We all can experience God in many ways. While serving I have experienced God in a more open matter. Growing up my family went to church; however, we did not go on a consistent basis. It was not until basic training that I needed and leaned on God more. As a young 18-year-old, I was asking myself, what did I get into? I looked to God to keep my faith strong and help me through those challenging times. Since I enlisted, I have put my faith completely in God during my deployments and depended on the Lord to give me guidance as we have moved around the country. My faith has helped me to be a better man not only in my own life but in my family’s life as well. I want to make sure my sons all learn from my example and lead a Christian life by allowing God into theirs as well.
From the perspective of a spouse: Jessica’s story
What is it like to be married to someone serving in the Armed Services?
Being married to someone in the military is truly a roller coaster of emotions. On one hand the amount of pride I have in my husband and what he does for a living is truly beyond anything I can express in my own words. I truly love my country and to have a husband who fights for it on a daily basis is worth every bit of sacrifice we have had to endure as a family the last 10 years.
What has been the greatest joy and the hardest part?
The greatest joy has been watching how the military has molded my husband into the wonderful, respectful, and humble man he is today. The military has made Mike a much better husband and father to our three boys.
The hardest part hands down has been the deployments, especially last hugs before he leaves and the uncertainty of how he will come back. It’s hard knowing if he will be the same man I said goodbye to or if in some way the deployments and the things he has had to endure will change him. And then of course my greatest fear, that he would pay the ultimate sacrifice. That is where my faith in God has been my stronghold and the only way I’ve made it through the hard times.
From a spouse’s perspective, what is one thing you’d like non-military people to know about being married to someone in the Armed Services?
One thing I would like non-military families to know is more a bit of advice really. Don’t take things for granted. Be thankful you are able to live in a country where you are free. You have countless men and women who fight for your freedom on a daily basis so that you can celebrate the birth of your children, birthdays, the holidays, and vacations with your families. All the while men and women in our armed services are having to miss so many of these milestones. Be thankful!
How have you experienced God’s presence?
My faith and love for God has been the center of my life since I was a little girl. However, it wasn’t until I had to endure Mike’s first deployment that I truly felt God walking beside me. My faith in God is what got me through those long days and nights resulting in a stronger faith that I continue to have today. I have also felt God’s presence in our daily lives as we have had to experience move after move. Each time a new assignment comes up, I lean on my faith knowing God has gone before us and prepared the way as we continue on this journey He chose for us.
Return to iAt tomorrow to read the story of Jordan Helming. Throughout this week, we shared other stories of men and women who have served in the military.
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I’m glad to see this recognition of military families. I remember well my visit to the placement office at the Christian college I attended when after I told someone that I was thinking about joining the Air Force to be a pilot, I was asked “Why on earth would you want to do that?” After serving 10 years on active duty, and now continuing to serve as a Department of Defense civilian, I can say I am thankful for the opportunities and experiences God has given me and my family through our military service. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to experience many of the blessings and assurances that Michael and Jessica describe. Our military needs strong Christian men and women to serve. Thanks for sharing the Kiss family story. (By the way, the photo accompanying this post is of a Marine EA-6B Prowler. While the photo was taken by an Airman, it is not of an Airman or Air Force airplane. Here’s a picture of an electrician Airman working in Afghanistan http://www.afcent.af.mil/News/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2000885640) 🙂
What a blessing you are to our nation and the world and to God’s Kingdom! Thanks for sharing your stories!