MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Our Air Force stories are as unique as our fingerprints. For me, it started in 1996; I was 20-something and knew I had to change my choices or I would end up exactly like everyone else. I feared I would get some college, but not complete it, get married, have 2.5 kids and never leave Florida.
I heard through a friend of a friend that one of my high school classmates joined the Air Force. I knew if she could do that, so could I. I found the nearest recruiter and filled out the necessary paperwork. I took all of the appropriate tests and Military Entrance Processing Station, better known as MEPS, was on the calendar for January 1997. I said good bye to family and friends, dropped my car off with my parents and off I went into the wild blue yonder.
From that day on, my life took drastic changes that I could not have been prepared for; it’s exactly what I needed. I got through Basic Military Training and before graduating from technical school, I found out my first duty station would be RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom. While stationed there for three years, I met some amazing people, some of which I still know today, 18 years later.
In those three years, I got married and had a beautiful little girl. I knew it was time to make some more changes for my new family. I made a very hard decision, but felt it was important to move on from the Air Force and return to civilian status. As I signed on the dotted line to exit one of the most memorable rides I’ve ever had, I paused, only for a second, as I changed my first name from Airman back to Christine.
I went on with my life, but every birthday, I would reflect back on the previous year. The military was always one of those thoughts I would linger on. I felt the Air Force was still part of my unfinished business, and I wanted to explore it in further detail.
On my 38th birthday, I decided to take a chance. I made a call that again changed my course. I called that magical 800 number for the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
There were a few questions that I never expected to get past, because if even one of them would have been answered no, I would not be in the uniform I wear today. Those questions were: Am I eligible to join? Can I have the AFSC that I want? Can I serve at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida?
The answer was yes. So, at 38 years old with a 12-year break in service, I swore into the U.S. Air Force Reserve on Aug. 28, 2013.
I truly believe we are put here on this planet to live, explore and push ourselves beyond our own expectations and limits. With this philosophy, I do not want to have any chances at living unturned or unfinished.
The military with the rules and military bearing, along with being part of less than 1/2 percent of the population that answered the call, left a lasting impression on me. Each civilian job I landed after the military was because of what I learned while serving.
Today, I am an Active Reserve Technician assigned to the 927th Force Support Squadron force management section of the 927th Air Refueling Wing at MacDill AFB. I am proof we can always course-correct.
It is never too late to start your story over or begin another adventure. If a person never asks the question, then the answer will never be yes. Why not push the envelope, learn a new task, meet a different group of people and begin your future today?