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Thursday, June 28, 2012

New Chapter: Air Guard Update!

So I passed MEPS and it was not as bad as I thought it would be but still different to say the least.
I was told by my recruiter to be there no later than 5:50am, so I left early just in case and got there at 5:30am. No one was there yet so I waited. I was not dressed up but I was also did not look like a hoodlum. It is surprising what some people wear. The kid who arrived after me wore baggy shorts….the paperwork you have to sign before going to MEPS clearly states that you cannot war shorts to MEPS. The mean part of me wished that he would have been sent home. He was allowed to use the clothes that the Air Force Liaison had in his office. Lucky break. When people who worked in the building started showing up I happened to see a person I know. He happens to work part time at the same dealership I work at so he saw that I was waiting and told me to give him my paperwork so he could get started. Just so happened he is the Air Force Liaison. Once inside we were told to go straight to our branches office and get our paperwork and name tags. I was polite and said “thank you sir” when I received my name tag and my coworker said to me “are you out of your mind? You don’t have to call me sir.” When another kid heard this he said “O cool, this isn’t so bad” so then the Liaison turned to him and said “I don’t know you! You still have to call me sir!” I couldn’t help but smirk.
Next we are sent to a conference room for the briefing on what the day has in store for us all. And to fill out more paperwork. The first brief was over the behavior and conduct that is expected of us that day. The next briefing was much longer and was 100% medical. All the medical paperwork we did with our recruiter was pretty much thrown out the window and everything had to be redone. I consider myself a very healthy person and have not had many issues medical wise in the past. I did have to write down some things but nothing as major as the top disqualifying medical conditions. Once this was all done we were all sent down to medical where we take a variety of tests. Our eyes and ears were tested, our blood and urine was taken for testing, and we had a medical interview where our answers in our paper were clarified and the doctor wrote her own notes and I had to sign stating everything was correct and true. After all of this was done the men and women were separated and we were to do flexibility type exercises so the doctor could check to make sure all our joints were working. Finally one by one we were brought in for a physical, much like a sports physical you get when in school. I have heard horror stories but it was not bad at all. After this my doctor clarifies with more questions, most repetitive to make sure, and we sign the paperwork again. Then she shook my hand and said I guess this means you are in the Air Force, congrats you passed. What a relief!
This was all in a 6 hour day. O and we were given free lunch and it was not bad.
Now my next step in the process is picking a job. My interests lie in medical and I told my recruiter that is what I want. So my recruiter set up an appointment for me to go talk to the medical group on base. I visited the medical group mid afternoon Tuesday and met the chief and the first thing she says to me is that she has never had a person turn down a med tech job once she has talked to them and given them the tour. Here are the highlights of that afternoon:
·         In the entire medical group there are only 50 people including civilians which means a tightly knit group where everyone knows everyone and it is like a family.
·         During drill weekend my job as a medical tech ranges anywhere from organizing and completing medical records to taking blood and giving shots. The medical group works outside the hospital and is in charge of making sure our airmen are up to date on all test and shots so they are fit for duty. Here are some interesting examples of what can happen:
o   When a squadron is slotted to deploy I and other med techs will visit them and take blood and give necessary shots so that they can deploy.
o   Certain jobs hold high standards which means that pilots for example will visit the med group for sight and hearing tests.
o   When we are not taking blood, giving tests, or giving shots we are training.
·         During the tour I got to see the bathroom that is very new and has showers and lockers! Perfect if I want to visit the gym. I also saw the break room and was told that on drill weekend I will not have to worry about bringing sack lunch or spending money on take out because they have bbqs and cookouts. That is cool!
·         Since I will be going to school as well and my goal is to get my RN once I do receive it I will have close ties with the commander who has the power to get me into the main hospital as a full time civilian nurse while I wait for a commission nurse slot.
·         Also, because the position I am interested in is so desirable there are no slots available which means the chief has to double slot me with someone already there. How is this possible? Well either I or that other person has to be leaving in two years or sign a form saying if there is not another slot open in two years, he/she will get their 5 level and become an SME.
o   I would be that person signing for an SME if the chief cannot find a more permanent slot. Well what does SME mean? It is the most exciting job available without being deployable into a warzone. SME stands for Squadron Medical Element which means that I am assigned to a squadron as their medical tech and being so I am in charge of making sure they are giving the medical they need. Sometimes this means prescribing medications or exams and if it gets heavier than that I am to make sure they get the proper medical attention. I am also deployable but only if I choose to. Being Air Guard I can choose not to deploy because of school, my civilian job, or family. But I do have first choice if the deployment is somewhere awesome for a few weeks like Australia, Guam, Germany, or Puerto Rico! These small deployments can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months and are rarely any longer than 6 months. I talked to a previous SME on Tuesday and she was an SME for 3 years and her longest deployment was 5 months.
·         Air Guard means being a weekend warrior. I work one week a month and two weeks out of the year. Next year if I am in by then the medical group is going to Hawaii for their two weeks! What really caught my attention about the two weeks active was that the medical group goes on humanitarian missions. This means that they will travel to underprivileged communities and give medical care to those who could not afford it or do not normally have access to it.
·         The medical group is diverse and I will receive experience in not only basic nurse duties but dental assisting and optometry. The medical group has exam rooms, a dental room, and an optometry office. Pretty awesome! What I love most about this job is the experience I will not get anywhere else and that I can take with me anywhere I go in the medical field.

With all that being said I was a little nervous before Tuesday but I am nothing but excited now. I want this badly and for the first time I feel like I am sure about something I want to do. Up until now I have just gone with my available experience for jobs and gone to school when I can. I finally feel successful and I haven’t even started! The road will be tough, I know that, but nothing that is worth it in life is easy.

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