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NEWS | May 15, 2013

Military Appreciation Month

By 2nd Lt. Leah Davis 628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs media operation officer-in-charge

May is Military Appreciation Month and while it is customary for civilians and military organizations to honor those of us in uniform, I want to take a somewhat different approach and tell you why I appreciate the military I am so fortunate to be a part of. The Air Force has always been a part of my life and although I have only been in the service for two of my 23 years, the Air Force and military lifestyle has shaped who I am as a person.

My father retired from the Air Force in 2001 after 21 years of service. As a child, I never once worried where my next meal would come from or if I had clean clothes to wear. My parents never had a problem providing for my sister and me. We weren't rich by any means, but we lived a comfortable life and until I got older, I never knew other people struggled to enjoy the quality of life we were fortunate to have.

As I grew up, my family had to do things other families never had to do since they weren't part of the military. Moving every couple of years, making new friends and having my dad gone on trips were just a few of the sacrifices my family made.

Once my dad retired from the Air Force, we moved to Florida where he became an Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps teacher. I finished high school and went on to college ... the Air Force decided I was worthy enough to use their money to earn a degree and I graduated with a commission as a second lieutenant. I received a stipend, book money and all of my classes were paid for during those four years and I was able to graduate college relatively debt free. Now I am serving my active-duty commitment and receive benefits most of my peers just out of college can only dream of, if they even find a job in their field of study. My health insurance is top notch; I get to do physical training as a part of my job and I have a promising career with a world of opportunities available to me that most people won't see in their lifetimes.

As an active-duty officer, I earn a steady paycheck while some of my friends back home are still looking for a job that pays more than minimum wage. I actually enjoy waking up in the morning and going to work where I get to team up with some of the most dedicated, hard working people I have ever met. And best of all, I will soon have the opportunity to travel the world.

The Air Force has provided me with the opportunity to have an amazing life. Sometimes I think I am one lucky girl and I know, without our military, my life may not be where it is today.