AF spouse, civilian employee makes difference

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

3/16/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Providing comfort to the grieving has always been a concern for this Air Force spouse.

Christine Bushby said she always knew she wanted to be a funeral director, saying that as a member of a large family, she spent a lot of time going to funerals and weddings. She learned consideration and compassion are important for families when someone dies.

She has spent the last six years at mortuary affairs at Maxwell.

"I knew when I was a kid I wanted to be a funeral director, but I didn't know how much of an impact it would make," she said.

For a high school assignment, she interviewed a female funeral director, who said the job is rewarding, as women have compassion and empathy ideal for this career.

When Bushby went to mortuary school, about 40 percent of her class were women. She said men can sometimes underestimate women in this field.

"They don't realize we're tougher than we look," she said. "Attitudes are changing."

She said that her experience with grief from losing family members, including a nine-day-old son, helps her comfort grieving families.

"These events helped me help families when they suffer a loss, since I understand how families are feeling," she said "Kids are always going to be my Achilles heel."
Her family supports her career, recognizing the impact she makes when people are grieving.

"I feel it is important to support her career because she has an amazing gift of caring for others and does a job that not too many people can do," said her husband, Tech. Sgt. Frederick Bushby, the noncommissioned officer in charge of confinement for the 42nd Security Forces Squadron. "I know it is a job that takes skill and dedication."

Sgt. Bushby said he is proud of his wife's ability to handle a career, deployments and raising two boys.

Son Andrew, 14, plays the saxophone in the Prattville Junior High band. Jacob, 12, loves computers and video games. Both boys are active in the Boy Scouts.

"I am proud of her because she has inspired me to endure all the stresses of being a military member," Sgt. Bushby said. "And when I do fall, she always tells me 'It's not how hard you fall, it's how high you bounce.'"

Mortuary affairs provides assistance for active-duty Airmen and family members within 58,000 square miles, which includes most of Alabama. For Airmen, Mrs. Bushby helps the family through the process of selecting a casket, embalming, preparation and transportation.

Her experience as a military wife gives her the perspective to help military families, many of whom may be away from their families and unsure of what to do.

"It's a different dynamic from working with a civilian funeral home," she said.

Mrs. Bushby has made an impact on those with whom she works.

"The operations would not be able to move forward without her," said Master Sgt. Danny Bradberry, superintendent of the honor guard. "She makes the operations transparent and sustainable."

In addition to her job at mortuary affairs, she volunteers at a funeral home in Millbrook, providing embalming and preparation services at no cost for low-income families.

"It's pretty rewarding," she said of her decision to help grieving families. "This turned out to be the best thing I've ever done."