(originally posted on 19 August 2017)
Wow. It’s crazy to be here, at the half way mark. 3 years in the Air Force today. Time went by so quickly but I also hardly remember what it’s like to not be in the military (okay, that’s not true I remember every time I go on leave LOL) It’s kind of a bittersweet day. Bitter because if I had listened to my father I would only have 1 year left! I would be getting ready and preparing for life after separating. Sweet because I still have 3 years left, which leaves the door open for a lot more opportunities that would’ve closed other wise!
A lot of people I know complain and complain and complain about being in the military, and don’t get me wrong. I’ve got a lot to complain about too! (I hate having to take leave for a weekend trip when I’m already off, I hate being so far from my family all the time, you’re technically on-call 24/7 365 days a year) but instead of writing about all the negatives, I want to write about all the positives. All the opportunities I’ve been given because of the Air Force, all of the wonderful people the Air Force has introduced me to, and all the things I have to be grateful for!
For starters, the Air Force gave me a job. And a pretty damn good one at that. A job that one- I really do enjoy, and two- a job that transfers so well to the civilian side! Shout out to my old man for hooking me up! In my opinion, and I may be a little bias, but being an x-ray tech is probably one of the best jobs in the AF. Not only because it transfers so well to the outside, but there are so many opportunities that stand within our one career field. Everyone starts out as an x-ray tech, but if you find x-ray just isn’t what you want to do for the rest of your life there are so many shreds available to you. You can shred into MRI, CT, ultrasound, mammography, or nuc med. That’s 5 additional opinions right off the bat. I don’t know a lot about other jobs in the AF but I don’t think many have as much opportunity as this one! Another opportunity the AF as given me is free education. I’ve already earned my Associates Degree and I plan to eventually go back for my bachelors, all on the AF dime. That’s a huge financial burden that was lifted from myself and my parents. The AF has also given me a place to live (although if it was up to me, I wouldn’t have chosen Texas for all of my duty stations) and I get additional housing and food allowance pay. Tell me another job that’ll give you that? Free health care. That is probably the biggest one for me. (Although, had I gone to college full-time I’d still get free health care until I turned 23, which is almost around the same time I’ll be getting out anyway so I didn’t really think that one through). One of the main reasons I even joined the military was for health care benefits. I was a sacred 18-year-old about to graduate high school and the only thing I was sure of is that I didn’t want to go to college. Being able to afford health care literally scared the crap out of me, which I feel is an odd thing for an 18-year-old to worry about but I sure worried. And so here I am, 3 years later.
Hands down, the biggest blessing the AF has given me is people. Friendships. I’ve met some of my best friends through the military. Between BMT, phase one tech school at Fort Sam, phase two tech school at Sheppard, and now my first duty station, I’ve met soooo many people. Each of them has taught me something different. Some people were in my life temporarily, and some permanent. I wanna show some love to all the permanent people the military has brought me.
Payton Nester-Wooten. Wooten and I met 2nd week of BMT when we were on a cleaning duty (I can’t remember what it’s called) and she kept asking me over and over again where I was from, and I kept telling her over and over again that I was a military brat. We’ve been best friends since then. Lucky for me Wooten and I both had medical jobs so we both went for Fort Sam for tech school. Wooten and I (and Stew) made so many dang memories at that place. Annual Sunday trips to the vape store, begging Wooten to go to the defac with me, Wooten always ordering too much chinese food and drinking too much drink, so many times we’d tell Stew “omg we’re coming down the stairs right now” but we still hadn’t even left the dorm room, SO many games of bowling “no, you’ve never been bowling with Wooten and Eihusen, it’s like losing your virginity”, so many jokes, SOOOO many laughs, and so many memories. I will forever be thankful to the AF for giving me one of my favorite people on the planet. A crazy motherfucker who loves doing honey badger shit. One of the sweetest and kindest souls I have ever met. There is nothing Wooten loves more than her family (expect maybe Fireball). I love random FaceTimes with you and your mama and I love that it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other, we still talk like we hang out every day. This year is gonna be 2 years since I’ve seen Wooten and that is 2 years 2 long! But whether it’s been 2 years or it’s been 20 years I will always have a best friend in Wooten and I am so thankful for that. Thank you Wooten for having one of the biggest and most loving hearts I’ve ever seen. God put you into my life exactly when I needed you and I am so grateful to have a best friend like you. I love you, bitch!
Andrew Ruben Ramos. If I had never joined the military I would’ve never been assigned Sheppard AFB as my phase 2 training site. Had I never been assigned Sheppard AFB as my phase 2 training site I would’ve never went into the mall (more specifically Champs) in search of new running shoes. And had I not gone into the mall in search of new running shoes then I never would’ve met Andrew. It’s a little crazy, Andrew and I’ story, but I love it. Out of all the people the AF has brought to me, Andrew has probably been the most significant. It’s so insane that I’ve known him almost 2 years. It feels like he’s been around a lot longer than that. We’ve had a lot of highs, a lot of lows, and every thing in between but we continue to conquer and overcome everything life has thrown at us, one of the toughest being distance. A year and a half of distance sucks, but we made it. He’s here celebrating with me at my half way mark and he’ll be there celebrating when my enlistment comes to an end. Thank you for holding on and being patient A, just 3 more years. That’s when the real adventure will begin!
All the people I’ve met here at Lackland. Gates, Maldo, and especially Ellie. These three people were there for me during a really rough time in my life and I am forever grateful for the friendship I have with each of you. Gates, thank you for always checking in on me and making sure I was doing okay. Getting me out of my dorm room and keeping my mind busy, all the random “hey I’m going to HEB wanna come just for fun” trips and most importantly, thanks for always being willing and able to sing country songs with me, especially Picture! Maldo, thanks for listening to me complain about all my issues and always giving me unbiased advice and for always letting me third wheel you and Ellie literally everyday! And Ellie, GURLLLL I don’t know what I would’ve done without you literally this entire year. Between all of our Disney jam seshs, mexican food dates, shopping trips, our #pranks, and movie nights that involved all kinds of snacks and all kinds of wine. (okay, really only one kind of wine but lots of it). One of my favorite memories with you is the night we were all at a get together and I was super super sad and you asked, “want some wine?” and I said, “yeah, in the biggest glass you can find” and you literally brought me a cup the size of my head! Thank you for being such a sweet friend and I don’t care what anybody says, our pranks are always banger.
And of course I can’t leave out Tal. Even though I knew Tal long before the AF she’s the one person who has been there along side of me through everything. We are so lucky to have been able to leave for basic on the same day and get the same job. Go through our phase 1 training together. Fort Sam holds some of my fondest memories. Like BROCOLI?!?! Sitting next to you in class everyday was so much fun (too bad we couldn’t watch Netflix like we did in high school) even though literally everybody in our class hated us, we had a blast. I love having a sister in the same career field as me, the AF is so small and it’s really cool to be able to know the same people even though we’ve never known them together… does that even make sense? Idk. The AF brought us together in the first place, because there’s no way I’d ever move to Manchester, CT on my own and I’m glad our friendship was strong enough to last all the years of distance. I’m so glad we got to do our senior year together, and I am forever thankful we got to embark on our AF journey together too. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you. You have been my best friend, sister, and my right hand man for as long as I can remember. From our ugly 7th grade cheerleader days until now. The women I’ve been able to watch you grow into amazes me everyday and I’m so thankful to have found my forever best friend so early in life. Thank you for being who you are and loving me even when I’m bratty. I couldn’t imagine my life without my BFE. #BFE4eva&alwayz
The Air Force has taken a lot away from me; my ability to travel freely whenever and where ever I chose (without having to be briefed), it’s taken me far away from my family and my best friends, it’s kept me from attending important events like my Grandma White’s funeral, or the Chief induction of my dad. I’ve missed birthdays and first days of school for my little brother and sister, I MISS MY PETS! But the Air Force has given me far more than it’s taken, so I can’t complain. (well, you can always complain. I’m just choosing not to.) It’s been a crazy 3 years and so I look forward to what the next 3 years will bring. It feels good to hit the half way mark, gives me time to reflect and be grateful for all the good in my life. I honestly don’t know what the heck I would be doing, where the heck I would be living, or what my life would look like had I never raised my right hand 3 years ago.
So thank you Air Force for all you’ve done for me, but no! I’m still not re-enlisting!!