OTS was somewhat of a spur-of-the-moment decision for me. I had thought about commissioning when I was an Airman, but it took me a long time to grow and mature as a leader to become what I now see as ready to become an officer. Every step of my career, even more so as an Airman, helped me tremendously as I progressed through my career. Looking back, I now know that commissioning was more than just a career decision for me. Commissioning was a calling. There is a religious aspect of this which plays a large part of my story which I will share below.
When I was an Airman I wanted to commission through a program called AECP (which no longer exists). Through this program after you finished your first year of college, if selected, you would be promoted to E-5 and get paid to finish your bachelor’s degree full-time at a university of your choice. After you were done you went to OTS and came out the other side as a lieutenant. It was a great program because your job in the AF was to finish your degree. I PCSd overseas prior finishing my first year of college so I did not get a chance to apply. For whatever reason I decided it would be better to just finish my degree and separate from the Air Force. After I finished my degree a long list of events in my life led me to what became my final enlisted stateside assignment. From there I decided to apply for OTS and I was accepted my first time!
I am a Christian and everything I do in my life (especially major life decisions) revolves around the foundation of my beliefs and my faith to my religion. If hearing my perspective on this offends or does not interest you, feel free to stop reading here.
My First Enlisted Assignment
I said above that commissioning was a spur of the moment decision for me, and that was true. What is also true is how much I grew and matured between when I initially considered commissioning to when I actually commissioned. I am a Christian and I live my life always trusting that God knows what is best for me. I have always liked this approach because it means I literally do not have to worry about any major decisions in my life. The way I see it, I live my life day to day and if a life changing opportunity comes along which I want to pursue, I pursue it until God closes the door. I also believe that it is God who brings all of those opportunities to me (opens all of the doors).
I believe God is the one who initially led me to consider commissioning when I was an Airman. I of course don’t know all of the reasons why I was led to pursue a commission then PCS, but one of the big things it did was motivate me to start my bachelor’s degree. While I was at my first base I started my degree right around the same time I finished my first year of school. At the same time I could have applied for AECP, I also received my overseas assignment. This prevented me from pursuing the idea further because I had to finish ALS, PCS, then become certified in my AFSC.
My Second Enlisted Assignment
I married my wife prior to departing my first assignment, so my second assignment was when we first started to explore the world together (literally). While I was there I was an Area Supervisor on a Security Forces flight which is the person in charge of around 20 Airmen who are performing on-duty Security Forces responsibilities. I was also the NCOIC in one of the back shops of a wing-level program. I still plugged away at my degree, but I kind of forgot about commissioning. However, those two jobs taught me a ton of leadership lessons which I know helped me get selected for OTS. Being an Area Supervisor helped me learn how to take care of Airman, and helped me to see what it means to support the mission from the “front lines.” Being the NCOIC of that program helped me understand how every mission on the wing fits into the larger wing mission, and it gave me experience working with commanders and writing policy.
While I was there doing all of these things, I felt my calling change from my Security Forces jobs to learning more about computers and the IT field. I decided my next career move would be to separate from the Air Force after my time overseas and join the private sector working with IT. I started researching how to get a civilian job and I attended all of the separation briefings to include an excellent Transition Assistance Program (TAP, week-long seminar/course). This was key because it taught me how to write resumes, and what organizations look for when they consider hiring someone. Since applying for OTS is essentially a job interview, I was able to directly apply this knowledge to my OTS application. There is no doubt in my mind that the knowledge I gained there played a huge role in my being accepted.
My Third Enlisted Assignment
While I was in the midst of this decision I received a Security Forces assignment to a less desirable base overseas. I believe God did this because as I began to research my options after getting the assignment, I realized I was eligible to retrain to a different career field if I applied within the next three days. Since the comm career field had openings, I went ahead and applied because it aligned with my aspirations in IT. Sure enough I was accepted to retrain into comm (3D0X2) and I extended my service commitment another two years. This solved a lot of problems with my original plan to separate because it gave me IT training (tech school,) and also moved me to the states where it would be easier to find a civilian job.
I PCSd to my first comm assignment and went to tech school prior to starting my job. My new job supported a high-level operations mission in the joint environment. This helped me see how the Air Force directly supports the warfighter and I learned the ins and outs of working with combatant commands. Despite working with such an awesome mission, I still continued my plan of getting free IT training and separating after my service commitment was finished. This was a difficult decision because it would have put me to 14 years, but it was what I wanted to do and nothing was stopping me.
How Everything Changed
After I made that tough decision I continued to charge forward with my plan. My mind was set and I had my plan even though my separation date was still a few years out. One day while at church, out of nowhere God spoke directly to my heart and told me to apply for OTS. Any time God speaks to me it is a very complex message, but He essentially told His purpose for my life was to be an officer. He showed me in what I can only really describe as a vision that I was to lead others as an officer in the USAF. This was not just the next step in my life, but it was THE REASON I was placed on this world. The amazing thing was that all of this information and vision only took seconds for me to receive, but it was immediately something that I knew was true. It was a powerful experience.
I was very surprised at this new direction, but I went ahead and started doing research on my commissioning options. Through my research I learned the timing was just about perfect. This was in August and the deadline for the next OTS application board was the following January. This is when I started my journey toward commissioning. As I began to reflect on what God was telling me to do, I realized my experience with the above missions made for a very powerful OTS application. People from all points of my career came out of the woodwork and helped me with key parts. My application was indeed extremely powerful. My record was so powerful that I was also selected for E-7 despite it only being my first time testing. Sure enough, I was selected for OTS as well on my first try and I left for and completed OTS a few months later.
Reflecting on OTS
One of the biggest things I learned about myself at OTS was that the person I had grown to become completely matched what the Air Force considered a natural leader and a model officer. While at OTS God told me that I was made to be an officer. There is no doubt in my mind that He has me on the fast-track to do whatever it is He wants me to do. I am really excited as I watch this unfold. I have only been commissioned a few months now but I have already had more opportunities than most other officers in my shoes. It is amazing to be used by God!
My Calling and Vision for this Blog
Part of what I believe I have been called to do is help others commission through OTS. This blog was a natural use of my skills, and I know through feedback that I have already helped a ton of people with their application and preparation for OTS. God is using this blog, and I know He will continue to do so.
I have only been commissioned a short time, but I am already picking up on a need for information on officer promotions, assignments, and other subjects which most officers are typically on their own for. I plan to make different posts to newly commissioned CGOs on some of the things they should be thinking about in their first few years. In short, I plan to let this blog evolve and follow me as I progress through my own Air Force journey. I think this will ultimately improve the baseline of the Air Force’s newly commissioned officer corps, and make the Air Force a better place for all.
Regardless of my religious beliefs, I hope you all know that I genuinely care for you all. Over the years I have heard many commander’s or senior enlisted personnel say similar things, but I want you to know that it is completely true for me. I do not know my readers but I put this information out there because I want you to succeed. If you reach out to me to thank me or ask for one-on-one advice like many do, I DO remember you and make an honest effort to help you however I can. I always appreciate feedback and I love to help people out, so never hesitate to contact me. My email address is in the title of my blog. Good luck to all of you as you begin or continue your own journey!