Joining the Air Force: Something to be proud of

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Natasha E. Stannard
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
One of the worst experiences in my life brought me to one of the best decisions I have ever made--to join the Air Force.

After graduating high school in 2007, some would have called me a gypsy, drifter or some other transient as I bounced around from one friend's home to the next while working full time in retail and half heartedly attending community college.

I assumed my rights as an adult by escaping my father's tyranny.

Though homeless that summer, I had an assortment of roofs over my head including my own car. I mostly stayed at my friend Bianca's home - letting her use my car in exchange for sleeping on her floor. At the end of my shift, we'd grab fast food by scrounging for change in my seat cushions. We were living the life until we got home - to her home, and her parent's rules.

We'd escape to her boyfriends and another friend's commune-like apartment where all three of us slept in a twin size bed, but always back to her parents. Weeks went by. We weren't making any progress in life, but we were having fun. Then, Bianca scratched another vehicle while parking my car--and its owner freaked out. Then, I was hit by reality.

Apparently, car insurance doesn't always cover other people driving your vehicle. Who knew?

Bianca didn't know what to do, I didn't know what to do and Bianca's mom called the cops because the driver of the scratched Escalade threatened Bianca's family. The situation was getting out of hand. I hadn't spoken to my dad in weeks, but I needed him.
Once I moved back in, my dad and I took a good hard look at my life and where it was heading -- nowhere.

I progressed as much as I could in retail without a college degree and wasn't anywhere near getting one because community college just wasn't working for me. I wasn't really learning anything new--it was pointless, so I didn't give it much effort.

I knew I wanted more from my life and so did my dad. He was an Air Force veteran, so the first time he suggested I join the military while I was in high school I'm pretty sure I laughed. But, after all I'd just been through; it was time to weigh all my options.

Naturally I looked at every other service before the Air Force. This was my subtle rebellion from knowing my dad was right about a military career. After finally talking to an Air Force recruiter it just clicked - especially since I could enter the delayed entry program and do my dream job for my country.

Never in a million years did I think I'd be writing articles and taking photos for the Air Force. I'm finally doing something I'm proud of -- serving my country.