FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
Millions of people around the United States observe Veterans Day in celebration of service members. For Idaho State native and former Air Force veteran, this holiday is observed every day.
Bret Bowers, Mann-Grandstaff Veteran Affairs Medical Hospital Public Affairs officer and former a U.S. Air Force buck sergeant, views Veterans Day as a way to honor veterans that have and are currently serving.
“Veterans day to me is an opportunity to honor the veterans who came before us but especially those still present and accounted for,” Bowers said. “We must all remember and honor them because of the scarifies [they’ve made].”
During his enlistment, Bowers served at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, and Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Michigan, where he was able to emphasize his pride for his country and love for the military community.
“I loved going out and siting on the hillside with my camera and I would videotape live-fire exercises, seeing these planes come in and launch some rockets and drop some bombs,” Bowers said. “It made me think I’m so glad I’m a member of the United States Air Force.”
During his time in the U.S. Air Force, Bowers found comradery and a purpose for not only himself, but also his fellow service members that was larger than life.
“I miss that feeling you have when you’re alongside another person in uniform, knowing they’ve got your back, not because they’re told, it’s not that it’s expected, it’s just what they do, not for themselves but something bigger than us, that’s what the military did for me,” Bowers said.
Bowers’ enlistment featured the first female chief master sergeant in the Air Force, and through her leadership skills, he found his purpose as a leader, an inspirer, and a service member.
“We had … Chief Master Sgt. Linda Arnold, [from] 1987 [to] 1988,” Bowers said. “The best part of that year was when she rented out the base movie theater for all of our team and we watched ‘Good Morning Vietnam.’ Whenever I watch that movie and think about it, I know that carrying forth that tradition of trying to instill hope, joy, and a little bit of information, helps us get through [our] lives as military men and women.”
Despite the challenges Bowers has faced in his life, he said there was one thing that remained flawless, the Air Force.
“I certainly remember the motto ‘Aim High’ and I believe in it,” Bowers said. “I’ve had many challenges in my life that definitely have not been perfect, but the perfect part of my life was the Air Force.”
“The VA position came along at a perfect time, I knew I wanted to make a bigger difference, a more defined purpose for my personal goals,” he added. “I want to help create positive momentum for an organization with such a profound mission. It gave me a complete purpose.”
Through the VA, Bowers was able to capitalize on that purpose and used his knowledge from the military as a way to better the VA and their mission.
Bowers’ experiences propelled him to a life of service, not limited to just his enlistment in the military but also a commitment to service members through the VA hospital, where he can pay his respect and appreciation for retired veterans and service members actively serving in the U.S. military every day, not just on Veterans Day.