When You Don’t End Up in the Career Field You Planned On – Episode 31
Vanessa served as an Aircraft Maintenance officer, both in the back shop and the flight line. She deployed to Afghanistan in the summer of 2013 after being married for a month. Her husband was not in the military. She still struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from her deployment. She got out because she didn’t want to deploy again as she started having panic attacks daily once we got back. She also knew she didn’t want to leave any future babies “behind” like she saw three of her female Airmen do.
When there was an opportunity to separate early due to Reduction in Force, she decided to leave the military behind and start her new life with her husband. As a daughter of an Air Force officer, she has military routes that led her to join the Civil Air Patrol and found a love for flying. This led her to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) with hopes of becoming an Air Force Pilot. Her ROTC Commander informed her she was too short to be a pilot so there wasn’t any reason to apply for a pilot slot. This crushed her since her goal in joining the military was to be a pilot and she was disqualified before she could even apply.
Deploying to Afghanistan
In 2013, she deployed to Afghanistan as a Maintenance Officer working on A-10s. She was stationed at Bagram Air Field. And although she never left the base, she endured countless incoming fire attacks on the base. She was engaged and was already in the process of planning her wedding in May when she found out she would be deploying in March. Luckily, her commander worked with her and found a Reservist to backfill her position so she could get married and then leave for Afghanistan after the wedding.
Her advice to girls considering joining the military is to be true to yourself. The military will break you down and build you back up, but that doesn’t mean that your personality and who you are has to change. It is exhausting trying to be someone you are not. And everyone can thrive in the military. So just be you!
Resources if you are considering ROTC:
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