Commentary: plans change

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Tambri Cason
  • 307th Bomb Wing

I remember sitting through career days in school, taking aptitude tests that told me what I would be good at and enjoy. I aspired to be as educated and successful as my father.  

By fifth grade, I figured it out. I was going to nursing school. I would work on my bachelor’s degree and then master’s degree. I’d have a successful healthcare career.

I loved people. I wanted to help those that I could, be a role model to my younger sisters and make my family proud. I had a plan. Even the aptitude test agreed, it was a good one.

Then, life happened. Before I knew it, I was 22 years old. I had changed my major twice and still had two years before I was scheduled to graduate. My scholarship had run out. I was working two jobs and attending classes full-time.

To say I was stressed is an understatement. I kept thinking, “I need a new plan.”  

One afternoon in 2011, I signed up for a mobile blood drive in a local shopping center. As I sat there waiting for my turn and thinking about upcoming exams, I found myself staring at the logos on the doors of the different military recruiting offices.

I thought about my present situation and what I wanted for my future. Could the military be worked into this plan I had made for my life? I walked through the door of the Air Force recruiter’s office to find out.

After a long conversation with an active duty recruiter, I scheduled an ASVAB test and began working towards enlistment.

I had decided to serve my country. I could still be everything I aspired to be, help people, be a role model and make my family proud. I realized my goal didn’t changed, just the plan.

I spent the next six years as an active duty weather forecaster.

From basic training to the operational Air Force, I was challenged mentally, physically, and emotionally. I learned what good supervision and teamwork looked like and did my best to support and emulate those qualities in my own career.

As the end of my first enlistment began creeping up, I had a big decision to make and lots of choices in front of me.

On one hand, I loved being in the military. I liked the people I was working with, and I could see an opportunity for growth in my career field and office. However, I knew there was an opportunity to do something new and different.

One of my benefits as a first-term Airman was an opportunity to retrain into another career field.

After much consideration, I opted to take advantage of this opportunity and retrain into another career field. I researched, talked to members of other careers and filled out my retraining application.

To my surprise and disappointment, a change in the regulation prevented me from retraining as an active duty service member.

Then, I found myself reflecting on that day I donated blood.

I hadn’t really considered the Air Force Reserve, but it was a path that would allow me to both stay in the military and retrain into a new career field.

Since my transition into the Air Force Reserve, I’ve found a new home at the 307th Bomb Wing as a Public Affairs specialist.

As the end of my seasonal training and current military orders nears, I find myself contemplating my plan once again.

Will I have an opportunity to remain full-time doing a job I have come to love? Will I move back home and use my education to pursue something new?

This is for sure: My goals won’t change and I’ll adapt for the Air Force Reserve journey.