From start to finish, the month of November celebrates key themes that are near and dear to my heart. We are afforded the opportunity to exercise our civic duty in support of democracy by voting, we pause during the holidays to celebrate loved ones and express profound gratitude, and now Gov. Torres has given us another reason to be thankful by designating November as National Veterans and Military Families Month. It is my privilege and honor to share this unsolicited piece in tribute to this month’s themes.
For those who may be unaware, I am a daughter of the CNMI. I enlisted into the Department of the Air Force in 2004 and received my commissioning as a Distinguished Graduate through Officer Training School in 2013. I’ve served in various positions, most notably as an intercontinental ballistic missiles crew commander, airfield operations flight commander, and instructor for Officer Training School. I have served three tours in support of multiple campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait.
In January 2022, I was assigned back home as the Indo-Pacific Command liaison officer. This is a fairly new position and it highlights the strategic importance of the CNMI in the world today. This one-year deployment has been an opportunity for me to serve my home while serving my country; they are different, but not mutually exclusive tasks. The greatest take away for me is the reality that CNMI veterans and military families are critical to an enduring and progressive partnership with the Department of Defense.
Before taking this assignment and returning home, I had discussions with leadership about what could be a potential conflict of interest for me in the CNMI. The DoD was very supportive of my desire to protect my home while simultaneously representing and advocating for DoD priorities. This was an important prelude to the future balancing act between military activities and the island lifestyle. It was important for my family and I to know that it was okay to be proud islanders who believe in protecting our home (families, land, democracy) and being a resource toward what the future of the CNMI and DoD required.
This opportunity may not be available to everyone, but it is important to know that the CNMI has been incredibly welcoming of our veterans returning home and of our critical work that we do within the DoD. I encourage everyone to tell our stories so that the CNMI’s rich military history is not forgotten and as we look to the future, we look with faith, hope, and pride.
Many of us taotao tano have served, are currently serving, or know loved ones in various military branches. Talented Pacific islanders on both sides are critical to the future success of our home and our experiences and skills as both people of tiny Pacific islands and as veterans and military families are invaluable. Our work and experience matter. Our island and family values matter.
It is also important to recognize our families who are serving alongside us, in a different capacity but no less of a sacrifice. All three of my sons were born in places the military has sent me to but they are extremely proud taotao tano. Altogether, my three sons: ages 15, 11, and 7, have been to 27 different schools in support of my military career. My wife continues to have to stay flexible with her career amidst all the moves and multiple deployments. This particular assignment was such an amazing opportunity for my family to live on the islands we grew up in, surrounded by loved ones from Saipan, Tinian, and Luta. We can’t wait to honorably complete this career, come back to our forever home, and continue to give back as we were taught. To the CNMI leaders across all islands, Commonwealth Bureau of Military Affairs, Veterans Affairs Office, and all agencies and partners on the ground who support all our veterans, military families, and our critical work here, thank you. Thank you for upholding inafamaolek yan kommunidat in all we do, together.
Capt. Kimberly B. Hofschneider of the U.S. Air Force is the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command liaison officer in the CNMI.