Continuing the service

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Daniel Phelps
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Everyone joins the military for different reasons. Some join because they want to serve their country, others out of family tradition. Some join because they want to see the world, others simply need a job.

I enlisted as a third-generation Airman, and at least fourth-generation military. Because of that legacy, I wanted to devote some time in service to my country.

Since I came in July 27, 2009, the photojournalist career field has provided me with incredible experiences most Airmen may never get.

I've sat down and had a soda with Pakistan fighter pilots. I followed a prince of Saudi Arabia around during a base exercise. I've engaged with two separate NATO Supreme Allied Commanders Europe during their visits to military installations. I've gone to Korea and played war games in a James-Bond-style cave. I've hiked through a field with joint tactical air controllers and witnessed them call in a helicopter to take out an enemy stronghold to ensure freedom and justice prevail.

Lastly, I've been assigned to Turkey and been able to witness sights and history that I never would have dreamed of seeing.

Now, I find myself coming down to the end of my enlistment and about to separate from the active-duty service. Because of the incredible opportunities provided by my job, I wish to stay in and continue to serve in some way. My original intent was go into the Air Force Reserves.

However, after in-service Air National Guard recruiter Master Sgt. LaTisha Moulds, 48th Force Support Squadron from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England visited Incirlik AB last week, I am now exploring the ANG as an option as well.

I still see the Reserves as a great option, especially with the option of the individual mobile augmentee program. The IMA program is available for those with prior active duty service and allows them to augment bases across the Air Force, which can increase professional growth and result in more travel opportunities.

"It's important to go into the decision about your future out of active duty completely informed and knowing all of your options," Moulds said. "A lot of people don't really know or understand what the Guard has to offer."

The biggest difference between the Guard and Reserve is the Reserve works for the federal government only, while the Guard works for the State first and then the Federal.

"Because of this, the Guard actually offers state benefits on top of the Federal benefits," Moulds pointed out. "It's the best of both worlds. These benefits will vary from state to state, so which state you would want to be part of is something to consider."

One example is the Guard provides special education benefits for the state in which one is a member of the ANG, Moulds added. And, you still get to keep your G.I. Bill for education as well.

The ANG recruiter said she started her Air Force her military career out as a reservist and then switched over to the Guard.

Switching back and forth between the Guard and Reserves is also an option people can have while continuing their military career, Moulds explained. The time will all count towards retirement.

Meeting with Moulds provided me with a lot of information I had been unaware of and answered questions I was unaware that I had. It was extremely helpful.

Whether to stay active or serve in a different capacity is a personal decision, but whatever decision one makes should be an informed one.

Whichever decision I end up making, whether Guard or Reserve, I will still be able to continue to serve my country and the Air Force with pride with the most informed decision possible.