On May 23, 2022, I will promote to the rank of Captain in the United States Air Force. This promotion will effectively take place four years since my classmates and I graduated from the Air Force Academy, a military university in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Although I do not expect my general responsibilities at work to change, or even my duty title, I am looking forward to the pay bump (never a bad thing) and leaving lieutenancy. Plus, I'm hoping to avoid much of the fanfare surrounding promotion ceremonies because of COVID-19 and the general truism surrounding hosting anything which requires significant coordination for a short moment in time.
That said, I am interested and excited to reflect on my journey thus far. In the back of my mind, I understand that this new rank will be the highest I achieve before separating from Active Duty to attend law school. (Unless, of course, circumstances change). Also, there is a beauty in life when we mark our progress and show appreciation for all that we have, or use frustrations to become better and choose better—if that makes any sense.
Specifically, in this post, I would like to reflect on my time as a junior military officer, explain my journey, and provide some commentary (and perhaps wisdom) to anyone curious about military life from an insider's perspective.
May 2018—Graduation Day at the U.S. Air Force Academy
While most people have fond college memories, my experience at the Air Force Academy was as promised. My time there was beyond challenging: from Saturday A.M. Inspections and military training events to six classes a semester and shining shoes at midnight. That environment demanded every ounce of resilience in my body, mind, and soul to stay and succeed in school.
When graduation day finally rolled around, and I threw my parade cap into the air as the Thunderbirds roared overhead, I felt immensely relieved. Graduation felt like an enormous weight lifted off my shoulders, and I could finally relax. Perhaps I felt this way because I was part of an exclusive club, the Centurions, cadets who amassed over 100 demerits during their time in school. For the most part, the more demerits you had, the more fun you were, but that's a separate story for another time and place and post!! (Be on the lookout for a 'Thirsty Thirteen' story)
Photo of myself telling the row to stand up on graduation day. | PC: The Gazette
June & July 2018—Sixty Days of Paid Vacation!!
After graduation, Cadets at the Air Force Academy get sixty days of paid vacation! The paid time off is accrued over the four years of military training as authorized by Congress. For many, sixty days is the perfect time to explore the world, and that's what a lot of my friends did. Many who have never been out of the country saw sixty days as a prime moment to jet over to Europe to explore castles in Germany, pubs in Ireland, and bike across Luxembourg.
My good friend and I on the Capitol Hill Rotunda. | PC: A random stranger