Pikes Peak Combined Federal Campaign
by Christine Tombarge
16th Space Control Squadron family member
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — My husband, Paul, and I have contributed to the Combined Federal Campaign since he came on active duty almost 18 years ago. The organizations we have chosen to support, however, have changed over the years. A personal experience or two will do that to you.
In 2007, Paul was deployed to the desert while I was pregnant and on modified bed rest with our third and fourth children – boy/girl twins. At 35 weeks, the day after Christmas, an ultrasound revealed a diaphragmatic hernia with our baby girl; a potentially life-threatening condition where an abnormal opening in the diaphragm causes internal organs to rise into the chest cavity and put pressure on the lungs.
Requiring a cesarean section and neonatal surgery, Paul’s commanders and the American Red Cross deemed this an emergency situation and he was home four days later, about two weeks earlier than planned. I was amazed and so thankful for the prompt support we received from his leaders and the American Red Cross that allowed him to be there. I couldn’t imagine going through this traumatic time in our lives without him.
Our twins were born at 37 weeks and Hailey, our newborn girl at just six days old, was immediately rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for surgery. Before and after her surgery, we stayed at the Ronald McDonald House across the street from the hospital so we could be close to her and avoid the 70 mile drive each way from Eglin AFB, Fla., to Pensacola. Though extremely stressful, Hailey came through her surgery with flying colors and she was discharged from the hospital a week later.
I will always be grateful to the American Red Cross and the Ronald McDonald House for being there for us during our time of need. When Paul and I saw these organizations listed in the CFC catalog, we knew contributing to their cause was one way we could thank them and give back to others in similar situations.
We recently found another worthwhile charity we wanted to support as a result of Paul’s current assignment. As the commander of the 16th Space Control Squadron, we see the unit’s 26 active duty members rotate deployments every four to six months.
“When a serviceperson is deployed, a family goes to war.” This is the motto of Project Sanctuary, a non-profit organization we learned about in 2009. Their mission is to reconnect families after a military member returns from a deployment. They do this by sending families on an all expenses paid retreat in the mountains for five days. Several of our squadron families have attended a Project Sanctuary retreat and they cannot say enough good things about their time spent there.
The CFC catalog can be quite overwhelming to look through. I remember doing so long ago and it was hard to narrow it down to a few choices. Sometimes though, organizations have a way of finding you when you least expect it.