Jumpstart life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zachary Foster
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing, Public Affairs

Commissioning in the United States Air Force comes in many different ways. With dozens of specialty programs, there is a path for anyone with the grit to follow through.

For Staff Sgt. Jacob Levering, 6th Healthcare Operations Squadron specialty services section chief, the program that best fit his goals was the Medical Service Corps (MSC).

Levering’s journey to find MSC started at a recruiter's office, where he took his first steps toward becoming an Airman in the U.S. Air Force.

“I joined the Air Force because I didn’t have the means to pay for college without going into debt,” he said. “The military was a way for me to jumpstart my life, and I think it did just that.”

Like many recruits, Levering came to his initial processing with the hopes of being a Special Operations Airman, but would hit a roadblock before his career could start.

Levering was diagnosed with deuteranomaly, a common red-green color deficiency that can restrict recruits from entering a combat career field. Left with a choice, he decided to continue his path as a medical technician.

Following basic military training, Levering, like all other Air Force nurses, was sent to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, to study the prerequisite skills required for his Phase I training. He quickly excelled in his studies and completed his Phase II in-patient training, eventually arriving at MacDill Air Force Base.

Soon after, Levering and the world would be tested in a challenge like no other: the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In 2021, I was deployed to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to assist the city in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Levering said. “We were on a mission to vaccinate the entire population. In total, we delivered over 200,000 vaccines and I administered more than a thousand myself.”

Relying on the fundamentals that he learned during his nursing school, Levering and his team exceeded their goal in a quicker timeframe than anticipated. However, the pandemic’s workload did not pose a challenge like he would later face.

“The biggest struggle for me was losing my uncle,” Levering said. “It was during the pandemic, he passed in his sleep. As if that wasn’t traumatic enough, that same year my grandfather, my uncle and my mentor all died due to COVID-19.”

In a world of grief and loss, Levering would feel the impact firsthand. Only with the support of his family and close friends did he find the determination to continue on his path.

“It was tough, but I kept pushing forward,” Levering said. “It was emotionally the toughest thing I’ve had to go through.”

Despite his emotional turmoil, Levering turned his attention back to his career. As time passed, his responsibilities grew. Over the next few years, Levering would progress from a technician to a supervisor to a flight chief.

With newfound responsibilities, Levering made it his mission to balance his administrative, supervisory and patient care duties without losing the fundamental skills that built his career.

“It’s tough to handle both supervisory and patient care, but it ultimately comes down to proper prioritization,” Levering said. “First and foremost is taking care of the patient in front of you. Once they are taken care of and their health care plan is set, then it’s management of everything else.”

According to Levering, he’s noticed that disconnects can form between supervisors and their Airman in the absence of hands-on patient care. His solution is to put aside his administrative duties and work alongside his subordinates, both sharpening his skills and reminding himself of the weight of the work he’s asking to be accomplished.

“A problem across the Air Force- in any career field- is when a supervisor is taken out of the tactical level,” Levering said. “That’s limiting their ability to train newcomers because they’re not as knowledgeable as they once were. My role keeps me really hands-on, and that’s helped me teach my Airmen a lot quicker and more effectively.”

Levering’s years of experience as a nurse has given him a greater appreciation for the tactical aspects of the medical field. Now, he’s looking towards the Air Force’s officer corps to share his expertise in a leadership environment.

“I didn’t necessarily walk into the recruiter’s office looking for this job, but I’ve loved every second of it,” Levering said. “I’ve enjoyed it so much that when I chose to apply for a commission, I decided I wanted to stay in the medical field for the duration of my career in the military.”

According to Levering, the MSC focuses on the administrative, logistics, finance, readiness, and facility management roles in a hospital. After five years of patient care in the Air Force, Levering is looking towards MSC as an opportunity to broaden his skills and effect change on a wider scale.

“I’m always setting goals for myself to accomplish,” Levering said. “Right now, I’m looking to tackle OTS then start my new career. After that, my goals will change to ascending to major or getting my master’s degree. There are no limits, and so far, the Air Force has provided all the resources and capabilities to get where I want to go.”

Levering has taken every opportunity the Air Force has provided and tackled every challenge that’s come his way. His hard work and dedication have brought him success at every turn and he serves as an example to Airmen everywhere.

For more information on MSC and how to apply, visit: https://msca.us/about/about-the-active-usaf-medical-service-corps-msc/.