Major Kevin Billups, U.S. Air Force
Currently serving at: Tyndale Air Force Base, Florida
Children: 3 - son, age 8; twin daughters, age 5
Nominated by: Alexsa Billups
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> Describe Maj. Billups’ ongoing commitment and dedication to his children.
Kevin is a Cub Scout leader, mentoring not only his own son but the other Scouts in the Den and Pack. He reads the Cub Scout book with our son weekly, helping him reach his necessary achievements for advancement, takes him to meetings and fosters the importance of father-son time. They read other things almost nightly while lying in bed together and he does the same thing with his girls. Kevin is also the sole male role model to our nephew. He ensures he's available for questions he may have as he grows and on visits sets time to discuss the things that are important to him. Kevin dedicates his free time to his children. All our activities, vacations and outings must be family friendly. Every decision made has to be for the benefit of the whole family. Kevin was contemplating retirement but instead extended his time in service just so he could transfer his GI Bill to his children.
> Describe Maj. Billups’ extraordinary efforts to father from a distance during military separation.
While on deployment Kevin sent individual correspondence to all three of our children, including gifts he purchased through local vendors. On Christmas day he stayed up all night to open presents with the family and our son held the laptop as we took our traditional family photo in front of the tree, just so daddy could be part of the picture. Before leaving, he created a jar of candy with family pictures taped on all sides for the children to take from daily as a count-down to his return. Additionally, he helped me create large "daddy dolls," as our children call them, with daddy's face on them just so they'd have daddy around to cuddle anytime they missed him and gave each an individual album with special pictures featuring each child and daddy. Unbeknownst to me, our son dropped a miniature dinosaur into a box before I sealed it, his favorite. When it arrived, Kevin tied him to his flight suit and made sure the dinosaur went on all his missions, taking pictures of the dinosaur doing different things while deployed: flying the aircraft, eating cake sent by us, and just hanging on daddy's uniform while daddy did his work. Our son loved it. Finally, he often tried to call at bedtime so we could do prayer as a family. Some of these things he also does while on temporary duty assignments.
> Describe Maj. Billups’ efforts to successfully balance military life and family life.
Kevin has taken our children to work with him when he has to step in the office for a brief period, exposing them to and educating them about what he does. They absolutely love going to work with mommy and/or daddy. He prioritizes his family, by bringing "homework" home from the office that he can do so he's not missing out on family life. Since we are both active duty with demanding jobs, Kevin is usually the primary caregiver of the children after the school day, picking them up, cooking dinner and often checking homework before I get home. He also takes leave on the days school is out just to be home with them and they don't have to spend all day being cared for by others. Kevin finds ways to have the children involved in all aspects of our days as so much time is spent apart from each other. They help outdoors, we go for walks, they help wash the car; every household chore can be turned into a family affair just so that every moment is a meaningful, quality moment as the children share family time but also learn life lessons of responsibility.
> Describe Maj. Billups' efforts to mentor/strengthen other military fathers and/or military children who are separated from their fathers.
Since becoming a father, Kevin has been an instructor for the Dads 101 class taught by Family Advocacy Programs on the bases we've been assigned. He teaches new dads about support for their pregnant partners and educates, them on child development, caring for an infant and about the dangers of shaking a baby. He's also been very attentive to children of friends who have been deployed, taking them on camping, fishing trips and having them stay with us when other families have had significant needs, including both parents being deployed. He's a dedicated wingman, who understands the importance of a father's presence. Additionally, he mentors other Airmen on relationships as a strong union is vital to the health and wellbeing of our children.
> Are there any unique elements to Maj. Billups' story that make him stand out?
When Kevin and I met, 20 years ago, he told me he didn't want to get married nor have children. Two years later we were married but it took 12 years before our son was born and after him we had twin girls. They are his life. All his energy is focused on their safety, heath, and wellbeing. He teaches them about citizenship, family values, and has much focus on the great outdoors. The children rarely play video games or spend much time in front of the tv, though we occasionally have family movie night. They build makeshift tee-pees, plant gardens, go fishing, collect seashells and enjoy the great outdoors just like Kevin did when he grew up in the southeast islands of the great states of Alaska. One of the other great things is that we document almost every adventure with pictures, including the little things they create or the silly things they do. A man that wanted no children is now one of the greatest advocates and role models of fatherhood.