Air Force provides support to new family

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Elora J. Martinez
  • 319th Air Base Wing Publc Affairs
GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D.—Imagine being doubted, criticized and talked down to by your friends, wingmen or supervisors for a decision you happily made and proudly shared. That is what happened to Airman 1st Class Nicholas and Etelyn Cash, who happened to get married during their technical training after knowing each other for two months.

Despite being criticized for their choice, the couple is still happily together almost a year later, and thankful they have the Air Force beneath them to offer a foundation for their new family.

Nicholas, 20, and Etelyn, 22, married in January of 2017 after meeting in November the previous year.

“The one thing I would always get is ‘You ruined your life,’” said Etelyn, alarm monitor with the 319th Security Forces Squadron. “It’s not ruining my life though, I’m with someone who I love and care for.”

Etelyn and Nicholas agreed that getting married at a younger age is in no way prohibiting them from continuing to have fun and do exciting things.

“People think there’s so much out there to see and do, and that you won’t be able to do that once you’re married,” said Nicholas, firefighter with the 319th Civil Engineer Squadron.

Etelyn explained how she thinks one of the great things about getting married early is being able to experience things together.

“You get to meet someone and then actually grow with them,” she said. She and Nicholas both said they continue to learn new things about each other every day.

Nicholas mentioned not all feedback the couple receives is negative. He explained there was an Airman he met on a temporary duty who supported the Cash’s decision to not only get married, but get pregnant.

“Most people wait until they have more money or time, but if you wait, it will never happen,” Nicholas recalled what the Airman told him.

Nicholas and Etelyn said despite the negativity and doubt they faced from those around them, the Air Force remained a constant support system for them.

In addition to the benefits and steady income, there are programs and support groups established with the intent to help wedded couples.

The Airman and Family Readiness Center on base offers assistance to help couples better understand their finances, according to Sharon Swanson, a community readiness consultant at the A&FRC.

“Our big thing is helping with their finances, since it’s the biggest thing couples tend to fight over,” she explained.

There is also a family advocacy strength-based therapy program available at the 319th Medical Group.

“Couples can come speak with a social worker for regular counseling,” said Paula Lindstrom, a family advocacy program assistant with the 319th MDG. Lindstrom mentioned the program is intended to be proactive and help prevent any potential problems in a relationship.

The base chapel also offers marriage retreats a few times per year, which are free weekend trips planned for couples who want to spend time together and learn new and effective ways to communicate with each other.

“It is intended for couples to learn something, apply it and then practice it,” said Maj. James Pitts, wing chaplain with the 319th Air Base Wing. Pitts said the couples are given examples of relationship issues in order to reflect and discuss with their partner to improve their communication.

Whether military-to-military or military-to-civilian, all marriages are important to the Air Force. Personal relationship are key when it comes to emotional, mental, social and spiritual resiliency. The Air Force does what it can to support couples like the Cashes, not only by providing benefits and steady income, but numerous programs and services, which help alleviate the stressors of marriage.