A New Kind of Home Front: 5

How the Air Force Shaped the Ables Family of Norman

Brian and Laura Ables credit the U.S. Air Force with not only showing them the world, but helping to bring their family together. Laura, a Norman native, spent four years as a staff sergeant working as an intelligence analyst. Brian, a native of Springfield, Missouri, was a staff sergeant who worked in transportation as a protocol driver for nine years. The couple, who recently celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary, met at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland during their time of service.  They now call Norman home, where they are raising three children, Dallas, 11; Peyton, 8; and Grace, 3.

“I loved living in different places,” Laura recollects. “I lived in California, Texas and Maryland. Each place was unique and beautiful. I met new and amazing people in each place. In my final duty station, I met my husband, which is probably the very best thing that happened to me during my service.”

Meeting in the military helped the couple lay the foundation for a successful marriage. “Serving with each other had its ups and downs,” Brian explains. “Being married to someone in the service made it easier for each of us to understand what the other one was going through. It also brought challenges to our family life. It was sometimes difficult to juggle our children’s lives while both of us had to report to duty. But through it all, those challenges only made our family stronger.”

While Laura served state-side, Brian served one tour to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates. He credits his eight months abroad with teaching him the importance of overseas military operations and the significance of these operations in preserving our freedom.

“I really enjoyed the chance to travel and see the world,” Brian says. “I was able to meet many different people from many different cultures. Although I loved the travel, it was always very difficult to leave my family at home and miss out on parts of my children’s lives.”

Laura left the military in 2011 and worked in a government contractor position before pursuing nursing school. She currently works as an RN at St. Anthony’s ER in downtown Oklahoma City. Brian served until 2012, when he transitioned to the Air Force’s civilian workforce. He is currently employed as an Air Force security specialist.

The couple says their time in the military helped to shape the life they lead today.

“The best lesson that I learned through my service is that, no matter how big the challenge or obstacle, I can get through anything with enough hard work and will,” Brian states.

Laura says her time in the military helped her to be flexible and taught her to adapt.

“No matter what life throws at you, you can learn from every situation and make the best out of it,” she says. “It was difficult for me to have to learn to leave people behind when I was serving. You form very close bonds to the people you work with due to the high intensity demands that you endure together, so it was always very hard to move away and start over. But the beauty of the military is that each new place provides an opportunity to make new friendships and now we have friends that we love in many places.”

Looking back, Brian and Laura say they wouldn’t be the family that they are today without their military experience. “I think joining the military is the best decision any person can make,” Laura concludes. “You will have great times and hard times, but every time will help mold you into a better person.”