For the first time since I graduated Basic Military Training (BMT), I chose to fly home in uniform during my recent trip to San Antonio.
We’d had a workday prior to my flight, my stuff was already neatly packed, and my flight, with connector was only five or so hours back home, so it made sense. (And all things considered, OCPs aren’t uncomfortable.)
By the time I got to the airport, my flight was delayed 25 minutes. We boarded, taxied out, and were notified of a maintenance issue, where we returned to the gate. Fortunately it was a quick fix, unfortunately it blew the timeline for my connector in Atlanta. So that uniform now had to last me two days, they didn’t give us our bags when we went to the hotels, and my next flight was at 11:00am Saturday, exactly when my youngest daughter’s championship basketball game was to start.
But it was still worth every minute of it.
While standing in the airport in San Antonio, a gentleman approached me with a question. His son had just graduated BMT the day before, and dad was concerned about his career path; he had questions about his son’s future.
“They’ve told him he’s going into something like military police, and the guys in his group are saying it’s a bad job.” It should be noted that we were inside, he approached from the side that couldn’t see my SF (Security Forces) tab, and my beret was tucked in my cargo pocket. So he had coincidentally approached a Chief in that very career field.
First off, I congratulated him on his new Airman, and shared that I had been at that same graduation and how great of an event it was, and how rowdy the visitors had been from the stands. Then I told him I had over 20 years in Security Forces, what the Air Force calls their “MPs”.
Then I made my pitch. Security Forces has tremendous opportunities, and the potential to be stationed at nearly every Air Force installation around the globe; he’ll get to travel. He’ll get to train; once his 5-Level is complete a whole host of additional options appear including future opportunities in Combat Arms or K-9 (the second being, hands down, the best job in the Air Force, not that I’m biased or anything).
Lastly, if by some chance this isn’t the path for him, at the three-year mark he becomes eligible to cross-train into another career field, maybe he ends up in maintenance (his first choice), or maybe after three years, he’s found another path to pursue. But ultimately his friend are trash talking because he’s about to fire weapons they’ve never seen, do jobs they can’t imagine, and see things that will leave them envious and amazed.
“Ultimately”, I said, “it will be what he makes of it. It’s in his hands to claim it.”
Dad thanked me, walked away looking a little less anxious, and then my return flight adventures began.
Thankfully, I was dressed for that moment.