Challenges of working in the Texas Air National Guard:
Since Desert Storm -- and especially since 9/11 -- the Guard has transitioned from a reserve force to an operational force and serves and deploys in almost every operation the active military does. The Guard also responds to natural disasters and deploys for humanitarian relief efforts. Many guardsmen have to leave their civilian jobs and families to deploy, then return to civilian life. You have to be very good at balancing the priorities of your family, civilian career and military service.
For hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Texas National Guard deployed to assist in relief operations, search and recovery efforts, and humanitarian services. For operations within the United States, this is especially important, as we are assisting our own citizens in their time of need. I was a member of the Aerial Port Squadron during those operations, and we were responsible for setting up an aerial port to receive airlift carrying vital cargo, supplies and personnel into the devastated areas to assist in the relief efforts.
I also deployed to Afghanistan as a logistics officer and was assigned in a joint NATO billet. I was responsible for strategic-level oversight for logistics planning, sustainment and redeployment of U.S. and NATO forces for the International Security Assistance Force mission at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. I led a team of 21 multi-national officers from all branches of service to plan the redeployment efforts and the sustainability of remaining forces. I enjoy the challenges of helping people in need and serving my country. In the Guard, I get to do both!
Every day I learn something new and get to do things that many people only ever dream of. Serving in the Guard is fun, inspiring and hard work. I do my best and look for ways to be challenged.
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Advice for students:
Go above and beyond the minimum; seek every professional development opportunity you can to enhance your skills; volunteer to do the hard stuff; be the go-to person to get things done. Never be afraid to compete for positions, but be ready! Find the best mentors you can and pick their brains for advice, and ask for constructive criticism. Seek support from your family, friends and community.
Aspirations for becoming a general:
Once I decided to make a career out of the Guard, I knew I wanted to do as much as I could and go as far as I could in rank and position, but being a general officer did not occur to me until much later in my career.
UNT's doctorate in applied technology, training and development had a strong reputation for being a program with the right set of challenging courses to prepare someone for the higher education professions. The faculty and staff were professional and interested in the success of the students in the program. The skills I had to use as a doctoral student -- initiative, determination, diligence, tenacity, dedication and follow-through -- are skills I use every day in my work and my personal life.