EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
At 3:20 a.m. an alarm goes off, waking up Heaven Fisher to start her day. She walks to her son, Carson’s room and gently shakes him awake. As a single parent, these mornings can be difficult but luckily for Fisher, she doesn’t have to do it alone.
As a 354th Security Forces Squadron response force leader, Fisher’s days starts earlier than most. Thankfully, she can drop Carson off with a Family Child Care provider and head to work knowing her son is in good hands.
When Fisher, a Senior Airman now, joined the U.S. Air Force in 2018, she was already familiar with the ins and outs of parenthood, having had her son before enlisting.
“Being a single parent in the Air Force can be challenging but it has its perks,” said Fisher. “Coming into the Air Force as a single mother, I was already used to having big responsibilities and that allowed me to easily transition.”
In providing several options for single parents, the Air Force works to ensure those who join to serve their country can rest assured that their family will be taken care of when they answer their nation’s call. Fisher, a Savannah, Georgia native, uses at least two of the programs everyday, a FCC provider and the Child Development Center.
Even though Fisher depends on these programs to help her, sometimes babysitters oversleep or call in sick. When that happens, her leadership team steps in to assist.
“Squadron leadership works closely with [single parents] to assess their childcare situation and needs to determine the best staffing solution for the member and the mission,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Donovan Wall, the 354th SFS first sergeant. “Flight chiefs and supervisors often afford flexible duty hours for when their shift doesn’t coincide with childcare operating hours.”
Security Forces, maintainers and other career fields that involve shift work struggle with finding childcare options at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Unlike other installations, there are limited childcare options outside of normal operating hours.
“The Air Force or at least Eielson, doesn’t have 24/7 childcare options, yet it has 24/7 missions for most units on base.” Wall said. “Airmen are consistently placed in positions where adequate resources are not available to them when the Airmen are required to be available to the Air Force. However, we can’t let Airmen fail at being parents.”
Despite the challenges, Fisher has found ways to care for Carson and protect the Eielson community. Fisher also stressed the importance of having a plan when you join the Air Force as a single parent.
“Have a plan and know that you will not be around family or people you know at first. Sacrifices will have to be made but in the end you have to make a decision for yourself and your child’s safety,” Fisher said. “Nothing is impossible, you just have to find a way to make it happen.”