By Airman 1st Class Ryan Grossklag, 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 16, 2020
It was March in 2017, when I would spend sleepless nights in bed, staring at the ceiling just pondering on what life had in store for me. I was in my second year of college, enrolled in a full schedule of classes while working more than 30 hours a week as a registered pharmacy technician. I struggled to find my purpose as I questioned the path I was on, not knowing if said path was right for me.
One night, something clicked in my brain and I realized an option was available, I just needed the push to motivate me. That night, I made the conscious decision to reach out to a U.S. Air Force recruiter and now, three years later, I find myself as a service member through three key ideas I’ve learned along the way.
I was able to get in contact with a local recruiting office in March, but I did not meet him until June. This was due to me not meeting the maximum weight standard for my height; when I spoke to my recruiter on the phone about scheduling a meeting to start, I was 20 pounds over the maximum. I learned bright and early, that if I wanted to become an Air Force Airman, I was going to earn it. Rather than getting discouraged and quitting, I buckled down, changed my diet and got back into the gym every day. In less than three months, I dropped 22 pounds and proved to myself that with commitment, I could accomplish any obstacle put in front of me.
“Hurry up and wait”. I had heard the jokes from my family and in the recruiting office, but I wasn’t fully aware of the weight of this phrase until joining the Air Force. I have never been an extremely impatient person, but I have been known to be irritable from time-to-time. From day one, every service member has their patience tested in every way possible. Now after everything that I’ve sat through from training to medical appointments, I notice an increase in my ability to handle situations thrown at me every day. I am grateful to the Air Force for teaching me this value and I anticipate my family growing, and now I know that any challenge I face can be overcome through patience.
Resilience is a buzz word in our day-to-day life and operations in the Air Force. Since joining in 2017, we’ve seen loss, tragedy, shortcomings and seemingly everything in between. It is a constant relief knowing that through my own sheer willpower and the aid of friends and coworkers, we are all taken care of. When my stepfather passed away while I was at Basic Military Training in December 2017, it was incredible to be able to meet with the First Sergeant who made sure I was able to talk on the phone with my mom and help her through his passing. At that point, I did not understand what resiliency meant to the Air Force or how it translated to my life, but through everything I’ve grown stronger physically and mentally thanks to the help around me.
After three years, I am thankful for the Air Force for keeping me on my toes and testing my dedication, patience and resilience every day. We face challenges at every turn in our Air Force careers; I challenge you to find the keys that drive you and never stay neutral when face-to-face with adversity.