Governor declares Year of Idaho’s Military Families

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- On March 22, Idaho Governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter, declared 2016 to be the Year of Idaho’s Military Families.

Idaho is currently the only state in the nation that has made such a proclamation for an entire year.

“I want to encourage our citizens to take a moment to recognize the invaluable contributions made every day by the families of our men and women in uniform,” Otter said.

The idea for the proclamation began in February when a group of retired Gunfighters observed how busy Idaho’s service members were in the recent months.

The 391st Fighter Squadron from Mountain Home AFB recently returned from a six-month deployment overseas, while the 124th Fighter Wing from Gowen Field is currently deployed.

The bill was championed by retired Air Force Colonels Bruce Wong and Paul Daigle, recruiting help from retired Chief Master Sgt. Allen Niksich, a former Command Chief. Additionally, several military personnel and spouses were asked to tell their stories.

“The reason I wanted to not only start this initiative in recognizing Idaho’s military families but also to see its fruition was very simple,” Wong said. “It is the right thing to do.”

The bill was presented to recognize the sacrifices military families experience throughout the deployment process, from the time they receive deployment orders to redeployment and challenges faced through reintegration.

“I strongly believe that our military families are consistently the strength and inspiration for our active duty, guard and reserve members,” Wong said.

The proclamation was unanimously voted in, and the congressional panel not only approved the bill, but also stated that it should be rushed to the governor’s office for consideration.

“These families are routinely asked to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden, under extremely adverse and demanding circumstances, all in an effort to keep our country safe," Otter said.

Otter approved, and signed the proclamation. A copy was provided to both Mountain Home AFB and Gowen Field for display.

“When we started this process, I thought it would be a fun adventure… and it was,” Niksich said. “But, having served 30 years in uniform and still being able to be a part of the Gunfighter team with the Airman and Family Readiness Center, it’s nice to see true heroes, military families, receive recognition they truly deserve.”