When exactly did you join the Air Force?

  • Published
  • By Major John C. Farmer
  • 22nd Security Forces Squadron
I joined the Air Force at the end of my second enlistment. At the time, I was a staff sergeant looking back with disappointment on nearly a decade of service. I felt unfulfilled, unappreciated and was struggling to decide my next move toward self-actualization. I did not feel like a “real cop.”

I had recently completed a tour as a Military Training Instructor. I did fine in the special duty assignment, but I was by no means a natural at it. I struggled to keep up with my peers and was far from prepared for the rigors of instructor duty. It was a hard job capped off by a remote assignment to Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, away from my family. There had to be something better.

My operations officer stepped in at the right time. I was pursuing a job in civilian law enforcement and the background investigators called him to ask if I was worth hiring. This prompted him to meet with me and find out the basis for my decision to leave the Air Force for greener pastures.

I gave the captain my profound, self-deprecating opinion about what I had not accomplished over the last eight years, and how I could do better for myself elsewhere. He listened politely to my abject line of reasoning, and then he said something that changed my life. He said, “John, you are so concerned with what you are not, that you cannot comprehend what you are, and see opportunities in front of you.”

This is when I decided to truly join the Air Force. His words hit me hard. You see, it does not matter why we decided to serve, but continued service requires us to focus on the people we love, support and lead. It must become less about you, and more about supporting your family, Airmen, peers, and leadership.

In the Air Force, we have the opportunity to perform our technical function, and shape an organization that directly effects our national security. Where else can you have that kind of impact? When exactly, did you really join the Air Force?