The true meaning of 'Service before Self'

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mariette M. Adams
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Being in the military requires sacrifice; one Air Force couple knows this all too well.

Capt. Timothy Krystosek, a budget analyst assigned to U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, and his wife, 1st Lt. Lauren Krystosek, a weapons and tactics analyst assigned to the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron at Eglin AFB, Florida are both active-duty members who face a daily challenge that many military members are familiar with -- separation.

The Krystoseks met in 2008 while studying at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Upon graduating, they married and both received orders to Eglin AFB.

After being stationed together for three years, Timothy received orders to MacDill AFB, while Lauren remained at Eglin AFB.

"Going from living together to each living alone in different cities is an adjustment which comes with little everyday struggles," explained Lauren. "Things we used to accomplish together as a couple now we each have to do individually."

Although the distance is not ideal, the Krystoseks make their relationship work. Timothy makes a seven-hour drive every other weekend to see Lauren.

"The drive isn't the easiest, but it's worth it to see my wife," said Timothy.

Although they make an effort to see each other at least twice a month, Lauren and Timothy still miss out on things most couples are accustom to.

"You miss out on a lot of things you take for granted until you no longer have them as an option," said Lauren. "Little things, like eating breakfast together before work, meeting up for lunch, sharing dinner after a long day, a partner to help with everyday tasks or life struggles, and just the everyday companionship that comes with living with your spouse."

Throughout their time apart, Timothy and Lauren recognized the other's commitment to the Air Force.

"If she is going to brief someone, she might have to cut me short on the phone, but there is a level of understanding," said Timothy. "Same goes for if I have a big meeting coming up; I might have to say 'Hey Lauren, I can only talk for a few minutes.'"

The Krystoseks are dedicated to their jobs as well as their marriage. Communication is key to getting through their separation.

"We talk on the phone multiple times a day, as well as texting and emailing," Timothy said. "We are a team. We have become more and more of a team, as well as supportive and understanding with each other's busy schedules."

Being in the Air Force requires "Service before Self." The Krystoseks sacrifice time with each other in order to serve and protect their country, a sacrifice which they continue to make.

Lauren has been picked up for undergraduate pilot training at Columbus AFB, Mississippi and begins her 13-month training in March 2016. Timothy still has three years left on station, but hopes to be stationed with his wife in 2018.

"I think when I move in February we'll find new struggles and new things that we must quickly adjust to," said Lauren.

Throughout all the sacrifice, Timothy and Lauren remain resilient.

"Although there have been many struggles and we'd obviously rather be living together, we've grown a lot from the situation, both as a couple and individually," Lauren said. "We're trying to find the positives in the situation. We're both making sacrifices in order for me to start working towards accomplishing my dream."

Through distance, career changes and busy schedules, the Krystoseks sacrifice for their country and dreams. They continue to support each other, even if it is from a distance.