Military Life

Family and Community

The Military believes a strong family, community and self are as important to the success of a service member as training or certification.


Airman First Class Abby Roetzel spends her weekends volunteering at a local animal shelter.

Length 3:25 View Transcript


Guevara Cortez: My name is Jose Guevara Cortez and I’m an Air Force staff sergeant, stationed at Joint Base San Antonio. I’m looking to find out what life in the Military is really like, and how it may be different than what you think. Today I’m going to meet up with Airman First Class Abby Roetzel, a pediatric medical technician who aspires to be a veterinarian. Instead of meeting up on base, though, Abby told me to come find her here, at the Animal Defense League, where she volunteers on the weekends. It’s not necessarily what you’d expect to see an Air Force Airman doing, but the Military encourages us to be leaders in our community. And that’s why I can’t wait to check it out.

Roetzel: Hi!

Guevara Cortez: Hey! Nice to meet you. I’m Jose.

Roetzel: Nice to meet you. I’m Abby. Welcome to the Animal Defense League. Do you want to take a look around?

Guevara Cortez: Yeah, please, please.

Roetzel: All right.

Guevara Cortez: Show me around. Oh, thank you.

Roetzel: You’re welcome.

Guevara Cortez: Appreciate it.

Roetzel: I think all the dogs in here are under at least 15 pounds. There’s tons more in here. This is my favorite. His name’s Deputy. 

Guevara Cortez: Deputy?

Roetzel: Yeah.

Guevara Cortez: Deputy, you live in Texas.

Roetzel: Yeah.

Guevara Cortez: How you feel about that, Deputy?

Guevara Cortez: So we’re both in the Military. Would you say there’s any similarities in being in the Military and doing the volunteer work that you do?

Roetzel: I definitely think so. You know, it takes a certain person to join the Military. That’s just something in itself. But someone who is in the Military and volunteers and gives more of their time to people, or animals, I think it really sets yourself above the rest.

Guevara Cortez: So how do you find time to volunteer?

Roetzel: Well, I only work Monday through Friday. And then I have weekends off. And I get really bored really easily. So I occupy my time very carefully. So on Saturdays or Sundays, I’ll come over here and volunteer for a few hours. This is going to be —

Guevara Cortez: Oh, my goodness!

Roetzel: Kitty Phat Camp.

Guevara Cortez: Phat Camp!

Roetzel: This is for kitties that like to eat too much.

Guevara Cortez: Now I see why they call it Kitty Phat Camp.

Roetzel: Yeah. We try and get them to move around here, climb up these little steps, as much as we can. But it’s a struggle.

Guevara Cortez: With your job that you have right now and seeing yourself in the future as a veterinarian, what connections do you see with these two things?

Roetzel: Well, I learn patient care, basically how to handle patients. I learn ... for example, drawing blood on a human is probably a little similar to drawing blood on a dog, because we all have veins. Simple things like that that I think I could transfer over to the veterinary side. It’s kind of like a stepping stone.

Guevara Cortez: Now in your experience, would you say that the Military has helped you become the person that you need to be to succeed in veterinary school?

Roetzel: Without a doubt. In the medical field, I work with a lot of doctors, a lot of providers. They’ve shown me how you need to perform as a leader. I just watch them a lot. And I just take notes on how they act. And I want to be like that when I’m in that position.

Guevara Cortez: So, Abby, what are some of the different things that you actually do when you volunteer here?

Roetzel: So with the dogs, you socialize them. That’s probably the biggest thing for me. When you see the really timid dogs, really scared dogs, that were maybe abused before that don’t really like people, just socialize them, giving them the tools they need to be adopted.

So what was your favorite thing that you saw today?

Guevara Cortez: Without a doubt, Kitty Phat Camp.

Guevara Cortez: Because there’s — I’ve just never heard of anything like that. And I have a cat that is kind of hefty. And she could benefit from some of the exercises or getting some of the food up high.

Guevara Cortez: Cute puppies aside, it’s amazing to see what a difference we can make in the community with a few hours of our free time. Abby definitely proved this to me today, and I’m inspired to get out there and do something myself.

Support For Service Members

Service members are expected to work hard but also have time and opportunities to relax and socialize. For example, many military bases offer gyms, movie theaters, parks, recreational sports leagues and more.

The Military also works with Armed Forces Entertainment to provide more than 400 music, comedy and theatrical shows around the world each year.

Additionally, the Services’ Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs help service members keep an active social life with activities, facilities and opportunities that include:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Bowling tournaments
  • Alpine skiing
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Bike trails
  • Hunting areas
  • Marinas
  • Paintball fields
  • Picnic sites
  • Barbecues
  • Cabins
  • Boat rentals
  • Organized sports teams

Learn more about the MWR programs:

Support for Families

With 53 percent of active-duty service members being married, and approximately 39 percent of families with active-duty service members having children, programs that address every aspect of family life are an indispensable part of military life. Current resources that help strengthen the quality of life for service members and their families include topics like:

  • Affordable family housing and shopping
  • Military spouse education
  • Child care and education
  • Family health care
  • Family advocacy and counseling
  • Services for families with special needs
  • Family citizenship
  • Financial guidance
  • Relocation services

A number of affiliated but nonofficial organizations also offer programs, services and tools for military families.

Airmen Against Drunk Driving

Senior Airman Rachelle Nielsen and her fellow service members discuss Airmen Against Drunk Driving, an organization that helps service members get home safely with just a phone call.

Length 1:11 View Transcript


Rachelle: Airmen Against Drunk Driving is an organization that I’ve been part of since I came here at Shaw.

Kyle: What we do is we actually have a 1-800 number that, any type of military branch, whether you’re in the Air Force, the Army, Marines, Navy, Reserve, you can actually give us a call. We’ll come pick you up if your first line of defense fails.

Rachelle: It gives them a chance that, if they lose their plan B, something happens — we’re all humans, we all make mistakes — but we don’t want the mistake where they get hurt, they injure somebody else or something happens to them. We have volunteers that are drivers each week that come out and just pick them up. No questions asked. I was actually the Airmen Against Drunk Driving president last year, and that was so rewarding.

Male Speaker: She created an environment that catered to all individuals, doesn’t matter what rank you are, and it makes them want to volunteer more, because it’s a relaxed environment.

Kyle: It does benefit me, because it makes me feel good when I’m helping somebody else.

Rachelle: Airmen Against Drunk Driving made me realize that I was able to give back.

Support for Parents

Being a parent with a child in the Military can be stressful, but there’s strength in knowing you’re never alone. Today, there are specialized programs, resources and thousands of other parents to connect with who can help support you and your child.

Support for Veterans

When a service member retires or decides to leave the Military, the support doesn’t stop. Organizations like the Department of Veterans Affairs and the TRICARE health program continue to look out for service members by providing financial assistance, disability compensation, life insurance and home loans.

Back to top