Taking a step to “cross into the blue” can be intimidating, exciting and full of unknowns, but once in, it not only brings a new career but also a new family.
Many Airmen can probably recall their days prior to joining the Air Force, although they may not think of it often. However, there was a reason they stepped into the recruiting office that day.
For Airman 1st Class Candace Crump, 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron materiel management journeyman, the decision to join wasn’t difficult.
“The choice to join was easy because I knew if I continued on with civilian life, it would be a struggle,” Crump said. “In the military, I knew I would not only have structure, stability and discipline but the opportunity to make something of myself.”
From early on Crump knew she wanted to join the military. She took the step after getting out of high school.
“After I graduated high school I did a lot of babysitting and also had to help my mom quite a bit,” Crump said. “It was hard to get a job because there was so much competition.”
Crump has been doing what she has sought out to do – pursuing her education.
“I’ve learned I’m a good college student,” Crump said. “I’m proud that I’ve maintained a 4.0 grade point average even while working full-time for the Air Force.”
Similarly, for Airman 1st Class Oumaima Lehnoud, 56th Security Force Squadron security patrol and entry controller, joining the Air Force was something she’s wanted to do since 10th grade.
“My guidance counselor in high school influenced my decision to join the Air Force since he always promoted it,” Lehnoud said. “He was prior military, and he said he loved it.”
Lehnoud has a passion for taking care of others and was pursuing nursing prior to the Air Force.
“Before I joined I was in a nursing trade school,” Lehnoud said. “I got my nurse aide certification and a medical assistant certification, and I was also CPR certified. At that time I was working in homecare and at a hospital part time.”
Although nursing is her calling, Lehnoud decided to join to have a career and to also continue with her nursing education.
“While I’m enlisted, I’d like to get all the prerequisites for nursing done then hopefully get into a commissioning program to be a nurse in the Air Force one day,” she said.
For both Crump and Lehnoud the hardest part has been being away from their families back home.
“I came here last October and haven’t seen my family in over a year,” Crump said. “It was very difficult at first, since I’m not used to being alone or this far away from them. But I’ve realized I’m not really alone. I have my frontline supervisors and the people I work with who are my second family. They’re always there for me, and it’s nice when they ask me what’s wrong or how my day’s going.”
Lehnoud has found ways to keep her family close.
“Being away from my family has been the hardest part since joining,” Lehnoud said. “It’s also difficult for them since I joined so young at 17. It’s getting easier though since we Skype, Facetime and talk on the phone. Even though I have my days, I know at the end of the day this is what I wanted to do, and I know being in the Air Force is what’s best for me right now.”
Today, Crump and Lehnoud have made several friends and even some who are as close as family.
“It’s fairly easy to make new friends,” Crump said. “The dorms are a nice environment to make friends, because although there are a variety of people from different cultures and backgrounds, it’s easy to find someone who has something in common with you. We end up forming a family with each other.”
For Lehnoud, her newfound family is made up of her co-workers.
“We are like a big family in security forces,” Lehnoud said. “We are always there for each other. We are a team and we take care of each other.”
Crump has a few words of advice for those who are joining the Air Force.
“You’re not alone,” she said. “There are always people there for you. Stick to positive people and listen to the advice they give you. Remember, always strive to do better and not just the bare minimum.”
Likewise, Lehnoud shared her thoughts.
“Keep your head up, stay positive and don’t get complacent,” Lehnoud added. “Don’t get in trouble, always do your best at performing your job and take advantage of the education opportunities.”