JOIINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --
Amidst the chaos of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Master Sgt. Janice Kallinen, 446th Force Support Squadron superintendent, drives on with her duties during these challenging times.
This fall, Kallinen will retire in what would be 38 years and 5 months of service in the Air Force. “When you’re young, you think about what the future has in store for you, but you don’t really know how it’s going to turn out,” Kallinen said. “The Air Force has been a great career for me. My husband, Jerry, has been in the Air Force for 32 years. He has also had a great career.”
Kallinen enlisted with a great sense of pride over 38 years ago. When her daughters were born, she felt a different sense of pride. “My children are everything to me. I am very thankful that they have grown to be beautiful, caring young women. The times we are under right now with COVID-19 have been crazy for everyone,” Kallinen said. “Life is too short. I encourage everyone to stop and smell the roses more. Hug your loved ones a few minutes longer. It can do wonders.”
Kallinen has been a role model throughout her long military service to her Airmen, but the biggest impact she ever had involves her two daughters. They followed in her footsteps of service in the military. First Lieutenant Kristina Hansen, a clinical nurse with the 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, and Senior Airman Rachel Kallinen, currently in training to become a loadmaster with the 97th Airlift Squadron, both serve in the Air Force Reserve’s 446th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
With Mother’s Day upon us, we spoke to Kristina and Rachel to get their perspective on their mother, Janice, and her ongoing service in the military:
What made you decide to follow in your mom’s footsteps in joining the military?
Kristina: “My mother always stressed the importance of independence and she has taught us that if we wanted something in life we were going to have to work hard for it. Joining the military was my way of gaining independence while taking advantage of its many benefits.”
Rachel: “I grew up in a military family and my life was shaped around it. My parents always brought me to squadron events and I grew up around the people my parents worked with. It wasn't until my mom asked me if I ever thought about joining and without hesitation I told her yes. I never second guessed that I would join.”
What did you think of your mom’s service when you were younger?
Kristina: “When I was younger I never truly appreciated or understood what it meant to be in the service. It wasn’t until I enlisted myself that I got a glimpse of what it meant and an appreciation for the many sacrifices she has made over the years.”
Rachel: “My mom has been a huge role model for me growing up. She's always willing to help people and she does way more work then she needs to but it’s out of the goodness of her heart. I respect her a lot because of the dedication she has and the amazing work ethic she demonstrates. My mom has been a Chief my whole life, and it never occurred to me how big that is until I joined. I wasn’t really aware of how hard my mom worked when I was younger and it makes me respect her just that much more.”
Military families are usually apart during special holidays such as Mother’s Day, how did you deal with this growing up?
Kristina: “I don’t ever recall her being gone on Mother’s Day, however there were other times she was gone and I just remember being so excited when she came home. It taught me to never take any moment for granted.”
Rachel: “My mom did a great job trying to stay home for me when I was growing up. There have only been a couple times that she wasn’t home with us. My dad was gone way more than my mom was, but when she was gone, my dad and I would call her every time we got the chance.”
Now that you’re in the service also, do you appreciate and understand your mom’s sacrifices more?
Kristina: “To be honest it wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I truly came to appreciate and understand the sacrifice and commitment she has made for her family. Motherhood is hard as it is, being a military mom however, comes with its own unique set of challenges. She has shown me throughout life the true meaning of service before self.” (Kristina is mother to 3-year-old Logan, and is due to give birth in August.)
Rachel: “I've been gone for eight months and every day I understand why she tried to stay home for us. It’s hard being gone for this long. I’ve seen my mom three times in the last eight months and even though I'll be back, I miss her more and more every day. I can only imagine how hard it was leaving your kids for long periods of time. I understand why she made the decision to stay with us if she could control it. I try to call my mom at least every other day, even if it's just to say hi. I understand what she has to go through just to provide for her family.”
What would you like to say to her on Mother’s Day?
Kristina: “This year is a special one for my mother as she is about to embark on a new chapter in her life. She will be retiring after 38 years of military service. She has not only taught me, but more importantly, shown me the true value of the meaning of life. I can only hope and dream that my service too will someday teach my children about accountability, patience, persistence, perseverance, integrity, service before self, responsibility and so much more. I want her to know she is appreciated beyond words and her family especially her girls love her more than anything! We appreciate the love she has shown us and everything she has taught us over the years and many more to come. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!”
Rachel: “Mom, I know I don’t say it enough but thank you for everything you do for me. I wouldn't be where I’m at today without your guidance. I'll be home in two months and I can’t wait to see you. Thank you for teaching me to have an amazing work ethic and to try new things. Happy Mother’s Day, mom! I love you!”