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Is blood thicker than water?

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jenay Randolph
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
"Blood is thicker than water," I grew up hearing this all my life in reference to family.

What exactly does this mean?

For me it means that your biological relatives are going to be there for you no matter what, but in my life I have realized that blood is just something that runs through your veins. It doesn't constitute who you can count on in time of need, family does.

I grew up with my father, stepmother, two stepsisters, and my half-brother in Jacksonville, Florida, after my mother's death in 1998. We did everything together to include Sunday dinners, church, holidays and vacations.

Although we all didn't share the same genetic makeup, I considered us a "family" that came together in the name of love and had each other's backs, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, as I matured into adulthood, the family dynamic began to change and the people that I considered family changed as well.

At the age of 21, I joined the United States Air Force and left for Basic Military Training on February 22, 2011, in search of independence, stability, and opportunity.

After graduating from technical training, I went back home to visit my "family" before going to my first duty station at Aviano Air Base, Italy. This is when I realized that the family I grew up with was not the family I could depend on.

In time of personal hardship, and distance from family, I realized I became more dependent on my military family. I turned to those around me for guidance and support, which were my fellow Airmen and service members.

I learned to lean on my teammates more during the holidays, because being stationed overseas can be difficult to visit immediate family because of the cost of and time needed to travel, as well as mission requirements.

As a result, I spent holidays with those same people. We gathered together, exchanged gifts, cooked and created our very own memories and traditions, just like a family.

As a single mother, when I received after-duty and short-notice assignments, I called on my military family to care for my children. After I had a permanent change in station to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, my military family continued to grow and be my support system.

Not only can I still call on my family from Aviano AB, I can call on my MacDill family as well. When I arrived at MacDill AFB I was seven months pregnant with my second child. It was a hard transition for me because I also had my 11-month-old child.   

Even though I was back in the states and geographically closer to my blood family, I still relied more on my military family in times of emergency and day-to-day difficulties.

Now, almost five years later, the organization I joined is more than that. Little did I know that by joining the one percent of our nation that fights for our country I also had joined the echelons of a family.