A Proud Mom of A United States Air Force Air Man!

A Mother's Perspective Supporting Their Daughter Enlisting Into The Air Force

By Rachelle Nelson, Smyrna Vinings Macaroni KID Publisher May 8, 2024

Our family has been filled with emotions. Those happy, proud, crying kind. 

My daughter celebrated the completion of Basic Military Training, also known as boot camp, and was inducted into the United States Air Force! We are so very proud of her! If you had asked me 5 years ago what I expect my two daughters to be doing post-high school, I would have, hands down, told you that all my kids would be going to college. As an educator and former school administrator, I learned a lot from having 2 girls 11 months apart. They grew up alongside each other but they were vastly different. 

In my family, my grandfather was the only veteran I knew. Joining the military was never discussed in my family. Therefore, I never discussed it in my household. 

As the girls began to grow up and we discussed their aspirations I found that one of my girls was struggling to find a sense of direction. She was very intelligent from a very young age. She was often bored by the work given at school. School became transactional for her and she expressed that she did not see the value in it. I couldn’t blame her much seeing how she experienced all 4 years of high school during COVID. 

I was trying to be a good mom by engaging both of my girls in discussions about career paths and majors associated. We started college tours and reviewed all the college marketing junk that came to the house…times 2! With my oldest girl, she had declared a career so we only looked at schools that got her to her desired goal. However, my other daughter seemed to be hesitant about the entire college experience. It caused me to take a beat and listen to her. 

I asked her, “What is it that you want to do or some other options you have been thinking of?” This opened the door for a great conversation. She expressed how her experience in school was not positive and she worried that going to college would be more of the same, except with a hefty price tag. She informed me that she had been looking into the Air Force. I began doing my research and calling some friends who grew up in military families. I learned about the career opportunities, the growth it would provide her, and the great benefits. 

So, we embarked on a journey with an Air Force recruiter and she was shipped off to boot camp. During this time, I had minimal communication with her and mostly received updated messages through letters. As her mother, it was very hard to read her messages. At times she struggled for reassurance and strength. She wasn’t quite sure that she was going to make it on the other side of this after she became injured. It turns out that not everyone makes it through boot camp. She was feeling down. I sent letters encouraging her to go at her own pace and stay positive. Finally, a letter arrived in the mail with military clearance and tickets for her 2-day ceremony in San Antonio, Texas. I was so excited for her and extremely proud! 

The celebrations occurred with us waking up in the wee hours of the morning, toddler in toe, and heading onto the military base. The first time we got a glimpse of her was during the Airman’s Run where the “flights” ran past us chanting their songs followed by a coin ceremony welcoming them into the Air Force. The Air Men stand at attention until a loved one “taps” them out. She requested that her 3-year-old sister do this. It was so emotional seeing her for the first time. We all were in tears, except for the toddler who was all smiles seeing her big sister again. 

As our family spent time with my daughter, though brief, her growth was noticeable and so was her maturity. She was already moving with a purpose. If I can give parents any advice about supporting their children’s post-secondary choices, it's that there are more opportunities to consider than college and that the Air Force has proven to be a great opportunity for one of my kids. 

My daughter finishes Tech School for her position as an Air Transportation Specialist. She has received orders to be stationed at a base in Italy. We see future vacations in Italy in our near future!