ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
If there is one thing Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee has learned during his 32 years of Air Force service, it’s that family support is critical to a successful military career. Luckily, General Scobee has the passionate support of his wife, Janis, as he takes the helm of the Air Force Reserve.
“I think we make a really good team,” the general said. “And I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without her by my side.”
“The first thing you notice about Rich is his sense of humor,” Janis said. “You can’t be sad for very long or upset for very long around him. That can be kind of frustrating as his wife, but he is really very funny. He is the also kindest person I know. One thing he says all the time is ‘you don’t throw people away.’ You help people. Even if they have made a mistake, you help them. He practices that every day with everybody. He gives so much grace and kindness and he makes me want to be a better person every day.”
The Scobees have three children. Their oldest son Dexter is working on his doctorate degree in electrical engineering and robotics at the University of California, Berkeley; daughter Christi is currently studying abroad, working on her master of business administration in Galway, Ireland; and youngest son Andrew is a junior in high school.
Both of the Scobees trace their roots to the South. Janis was born and raised in Harlan County, Kentucky, a small coal mining community, while General Scobee moved a lot with his military family as a child but considers Chattanooga, Tennessee, to be home.
The Scobees have moved several times as General Scobee has progressed up the ranks.
One of the highlights of General Scobee’s career was serving as commander of the 506th Air Expeditionary Group at Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq, in 2008.
In his current position, the general will split his time between the nation’s capital and AFRC headquarters at Robins as well as make frequent visits to Reserve organizations throughout the country. Mrs. Scobee is looking forward to traveling with her husband when her schedule allows. Like her husband, she loves to meet with Citizen Airmen and their families.
Both of the Scobees are passionate about providing Reservists with the support they need at home so they can be their best while in uniform.
“One thing that Janis helped me realize is that everything you do in your career – even in service to your nation – has to be in line with the needs of your family, however you define your family. If you don’t have support, you can’t be your best,” General Scobee said. “I have a spouse who stands by my side, helps me when I need help. She’s a sounding board when I need advice. She’s always there for me. What we’ve learned is that when Airmen don’t have support, it’s hard to serve in the Air Force Reserve.”
Mrs. Scobee is a strong advocate for support programs that help Reservists and their family members. “We expect excellence from our Airmen in all they do and they deserve excellence in all of their support programs,” she said.
She is heavily involved in the Key Spouse program and serves as the Key Spouse mentor for all of the Reserve’s senior spouses. “I’ve been involved with Key Spouse ever since it first came along in the Reserve and I think it’s a great way to make sure every family stays connected, either during deployment or day-to-day life. Having a resource like a Key Spouse available 24/7 is super important.”
She is also a big proponent of the Yellow Ribbon program. “I think Yellow Ribbon is the best way for our Airmen and their families to learn about and get connected to the programs they might need before, during or after a deployment. Reservists often don’t live close to a military base and their families are not connected to a base or a military support system. They need to know about all of the programs the Reserve offers and that’s what Yellow Ribbon provides.”
“My advice when it comes to Yellow Ribbon is ‘Go,’” the general said. “I need our Airmen to go to Yellow Ribbon. That’s where we connect Airmen and their families to the programs they need. When you are stressed about what is going on back home, your head is not in the game on a deployment. We have to have your head in the game when you are deployed.”
Like all Reserve families, the Scobees said they struggle with finding balance with all that is going on in their busy lives.
“Something I learned from our command chief is that balance might not be the right word,” the general said. “Something will always be out of balance. What we are looking for is harmony. At some point in your life, your family is going to take priority. At some point, you are going to go into combat and the military is going to take priority. At some point, maybe changing jobs or when you have an increase in responsibility, your civilian career is going to take priority. All of these things have to be in harmony, but not necessarily balance.”
How do the Scobees strive for that harmony?
“It is hard because Rich is gone so much, but we really value the time we do get to spend together,” Janis said. “When we do get a day together, we like to reconnect and nest at home and maybe work on a project together around the house. A good day for us would be to go to the home improvement store, go out to eat breakfast and then work on something together around the house.
“When we’re on the road, we like to do these weird, kitschy kind of outings,” she added. “We like going to places like the Winchester Mystery House (a famous haunted house in San Jose, California) and the Stanley Hotel in Colorado where The Shining was set.”
“And being from the South, nothing beats a trip to Dollywood and a good funnel cake,” the general added.
Speaking of food, Mrs. Scobee is a culinary school graduate and an accomplished chef.
“We eat really well at the Scobee house,” the general said.
“I love to cook and host people at our house,” Janis said. “When we were in Colorado, I was able to use what I learned at culinary school as a volunteer at the Care and Share Food Bank in Colorado Springs. We taught low-income families to cook healthy and nutritious food that tastes good on a budget of $25 to $30 a week. That doesn’t go very far. We taught them the basics of nutrition and cooking. That was a really neat experience and I would not have had that opportunity if I wasn’t a military spouse.”
As General Scobee takes command of AFRC, he and Mrs. Scobee have a message for all Reservists: “Know that your senior leaders, including spouses, are working hard to take care of you and we are committed to building trust in our organization. We want to make sure you have everything you need to be comfortable and supported. Have fun and enjoy the ride! Always remember that these are the good ole’ days you are going to tell your grandbabies about one day.”