Reserving a new spot in the Air Force

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Do you remember your very first job interview? I remember mine; when the interviewer started asking me questions about what qualities I bring to the table, I could feel a sudden rush of nervousness run through my veins. I try to stay calm by breathing, but I can sense my Filipino accent trickling out with every word I say, my eyes start burning and my voice starts cracking every time I start and end my sentences.

A lot has changed ever since I joined the military. I feel physically fit, I am more mature in decisions I make and I can say my communication skill has improved since the last time I was interviewed as a civilian. The military has helped me develop the confidence I need to interact with others to get my job done.

Almost four years into my military adventure soon I will have to decide what path to choose; whether I want to continue as an Active Duty Airman, leave the military or join the Air Force Reserves/Air National Guard. In the back of my mind I always wanted to finish my degree in the medical career field. I feel now is the best time to do that. I looked at all my options and I leaned towards joining the Reserves or National Guard. My dad once told me to leave one foot in the door, just in case it doesn't work out because it's easier to get back into the military then starting back all over again. The real question is which one do I pick? So I scheduled an appointment with the Air Force Reserve Recruiter here to find out more.

Despite being a photojournalist in the Air Force interviews still make me a little tense, but now I would get to interview the interviewer. Knock, knock! A voice answered, "Please come in and have a seat and Hi! My name is Master Sergeant Michael Perkins; I am the Air Force Reserve recruiter." I felt his confidence right away. As soon as we sat down, he began to ask me how many years have I been in and when is my final separation date. Once he knew my situation, we started talking about what my plans were. I asked him, what are the qualifications to join?

"More than likely you still qualify, unless you have either physical/mental or disciplinary issues," he said. I told him that I wanted to go back to college to finish my degree and he mentioned that my education benefits would transfer over from active duty to the AFR, but the only difference is whether I wanted to be full time or part time. Such benefits can transfer over if I have the Post-9/11 or G.I. Bill and will also receive Basic Allowance for Housing at staff sergeant pay. This guy knows his stuff; every question I ask him, he responds back with sureness.

Usually when I hear about other people's experience at the recruiter's office, it's always a negative remark. You would hear someone say that they just want you to join so they can make their quota, but this recruiter wanted to make sure that the Reserves can benefit me. One interesting thing I didn't know about joining the Reserves is that, you have to meet their standards. It's just like going to a job interview in some sense; you have to bring a letter of intent, a military resume and your last three enlisted performance reports.

The last question I asked was why do you think Airmen should not completely separate from the Air Force and join the Reserves instead? He replied, "because it's a great opportunity to continue to serve on a part-time basis and to help you transition to become a civilian again. It allows you to keep all of those important benefits that we all come to love. If you need the AFR, because things are not working out on the civilian side, you can work more than just one weekend a month to help you put money in the bank to pay those bills. Most importantly, you will have control of your AFR career, so no more orders or permanent changes of station."

It was a good decision going in and talking to the recruiter himself rather than looking up information online. If there is anyone out there in my situation, my suggestion to you is to get a hold of your local recruiter's office. To contact Master Sgt. Michael Perkins for more information or to schedule an appointment, call 701-747-4899.