Author Archives: admin

3 Years = Meritorious Service

Third time’s a charm!  Well, it’s a medal anyway.

Today is the third anniversary of my enlistment in the Air Force Reserve – my Air Force birthday!  It means an increase of $15.20 for each drill weekend.  Seems like peanuts, but we’re moving forward and that’s always a good thing, right?  

I only recently was reminded that this birthday also means that I will receive the Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal, for three continuous years of service in the Air Force Reserve.  As a former Marine, DH tends to laugh at how easily ribbons and medals are handed out in the other branches, but that’s how we do things in the Air Force, so who am I to judge?  In a way, I understand where he’s coming from.  I haven’t “done” anything, at least nothing that feels special or extraordinary.  I haven’t fulfilled my enlistment contract yet, so yes, I did sign up for this.  I’ve just done my job for the last three years.  I’ve shown up.  Maybe this ribbon seems like a “Everyone Gets A Trophy!” occasion for others, but I’ve also watched those around me opt to go into the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) left and right, leaving behind their military careers.  It’s not easy, balancing family, career, and service, but for me it’s more than worth it to serve my country.  We make it work and I see the value in continuing my service, despite the sacrifice.

So, I’ll wear my new medal proudly and pat myself on the back for the three year milestone I’ve hit today.  Only seventeen to go!

In all seriousness, my personal Facebook status read as follows: “Three years ago today I stepped out of my comfort zone with the belief of “Better Late Than Never” in terms of goal achievement.  I never wanted to look back and wonder if I could have served my country, like all of the noble and honorable people in my life.  So I did it, at age 30.  It was one of the best decisions I could’ve ever made for myself and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”  My message is simple, but heartfelt.  Whatever brings you to that recruiter’s office, I hope that you, too, are filled with the same enthusiasm on day 1095 (hell, 7300!) as you are on day 1.     

17 Jan 14 Uniform Updates!

Future Airman Aunie of

Authorized?  Yes.  Smart?  Debatable.  [Source]

This is a biggie, folks!  I don’t expect BMT to start issuing you black socks for PT gear, but it’s nice to know that you have that option now for the future, if you prefer black socks.  Just earlier this month when I was taking my test, I was reminded by my supervisor that my socks had to be white or I would not be allowed to test. 

As for athletic shoes, this should hopefully put many of you at ease and minimize the number of “Are these shoes ok?” questions that start flying around the web.  Use some common sense though.  BMT is probably not the time to debut these fabulous New Balance 890V3s.  Save your loudest pair of kicks for that half marathon when you come home, and find a more subdued pair in the meantime.  Remember that even though they might be authorized, you’re not going to want the attention that they bring to you by the MTIs.  Be smart.  Color is fine, but don’t go overboard.

Cell Phones

6.3.3. Handheld Electronic Devices. Handheld electronic devices are small electronic equipment such as cellular phones (personal or official), MP3 or similar players, radio, or hands-free devices (e.g. Bluetooth). Handheld electronic devices, if worn on the belt/waistband, or clipped to a purse will be plain black, silver, dark blue, or gray. Handheld electronic devices that are not worn on the belt/waistband/or clipped to a purse can be any color. Holster and other storage devices used to attach handheld electronic devices to the uniform or purse will be plain black, silver, dark blue, or gray. One handheld electronic device may be attached to a belt/waistband on either side or clipped to a purse.

This may or may not affect you at tech school, depending on the rules enforced by your squadron.  This definitely won’t apply to you while at BMT.  While at Keesler (back in 2011), we were not allowed to have our phone on our person during the duty day.  The biggest change here is that if you’re not wearing your cell phone on your waistband or visible on a purse, then the case can be any color.  If your phone is visible, you must adhere to the limitations of the case color as described above.  Pretty simple to follow.

If you want read about the other changes to the AFI, which won’t likely affect you until you become permanent party, you can read a concise description here.   

Palace Chase – AD to ANG

“Force Shaping” is a dirty little pair of words in the Air Force.  If you haven’t heard it before, it’s the nicely worded phrase for “someone’s going to get fired.”  Well, maybe that’s a little extreme, but it’s the term coined to describe how they thin the herd, typically amongst the active duty Airmen.  It happens in a variety of ways, either voluntary (retirements, people getting out of the military by choice) or involuntary (people being discharged).  How can you be proactive during this time of instability, if you think you’re on the chopping block but you still want to serve?  Let’s
In light of recent Force Shaping with the Air Force, I have gotten a whole inbox full of questions from AD friends about joining the Air Guard. 
I personally left AD Air Force and Palace Chased in to the Air National Guard.  My reasoning was due to my son being born 7 weeks premature.  We decided as a family that my husband would stay in and I would Palace Chase.  Our little boy needed someone at home to take care of his needs.  So in this instance I sacrificed my career for the love of this precious little boy.  
So how did I do it?
Many of my friends want to know if it is easy and or if it is a good option to take during Force Shaping.  
I personally believe it is.
There are two ways to join the Guard or Reserve from AD of ANY branch of service.
But before you do that, you have to determine what which service you want to join.  You can log on to or you will then be set up with an in service recruiter.  Or you can find the in service recruiter normally at the Professional Development Center on your base.  This is where you determine which branch you will join.
My first reason I decided to join the Air National Guard was because as AD we worked very closely with our Guard counterparts.  I felt that I would be more comfortable moving into an office where I already knew the folks that worked there.  The second reason was due to the fact that they didn’t have my job open in the Air Reserve the idea of retraining with a newborn while my husband was deployed did not sound like very much fun, or driving 2 hours away every Drill Weekend.
Once you determine what service you want to join the recruiter will help you with the process of staring your application and deciding if you want to Palace Chase or Palace Front.  At this point, your recruiter will let you know if your job is available or if you will need to consider retraining. 
The first way to join the Guard or Reserve is Palace Chase.
This process can be as short as 6 weeks, which was the case for me.  You have to meet certain qualifications in order to be approved for Palace Chase.  Your Functional Manager will determine if you can leave AD considering manning in the career field you are in, your PT scores, if you are on a profile, if you are on a control roster, and if you are a First Term Airmen you must complete at least HALF of your initial enlistment before you are able to qualify for Palace Chase. 
Once you meet all of those qualifications you are free to apply for Palace Chase via AFPC. 
When you get approval which I said could be as little as 6 weeks, but could take much longer, then you will determine your enlistment date into your new unit.  You will then officially begin the separation process.
Keep in mind you will have to serve DOUBLE the amount of time you have remaining on AD.  For instance I was at my 1-year mark of my 2nd term of enlistment.  I had 3 years remaining on my enlistment, so when I enlisted in the Air National Guard I had to serve 6 years in the Guard.
There is no application process at AFPC for Palace Front, which means there is no worry over manning issues.  The service member would contact an in service recruiter and line up a job on the end of the current enlistment.  Once the service member has separated from AD at the end of their enlistment they will transition into the Guard or Reserve at that point. 
A note or two :
-You will in most cases keep the rank that you have earned.
-You will also continue to earn point towards retirement with the Guard and Reserve.
Hopefully this provides a little relief in helping you decide what to do if you are on the list for Force Shaping.

Thanks so much, Dina!  If you’re interested in reading the actual regulation about the Palace Chase and Palace Front programs, check out AFI 36-3205.

Postpartum PT, Round Two!

Aiming high and making a comeback!  Was that too much of a tip-off about the subject of this post?  Oh well, if you’ve been following me on my The FAC staff won’t tell you your total score.  You sign off on your sheet, but must either calculate the score on your own or look back online later once they’ve entered it.  When I was trying to get a quick calculation on my own later, I was shocked to realize that, holy crap, I think I may have gotten a 90!  Sure enough, my final score was a 91.20!  If that’s not reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is!  Going from an unsatisfactory to an excellent after having a baby?  Game on!  Quick recap – a score below 75 is a failure (as well as if you don’t meet the minimums in each category), between 75 and 90 is a satisfactory and requires a retest in six months, and a score above a 90 is an excellent and doesn’t require a retest for another year.

Needless to say, I pigged out at lunch.  What you don’t see on my DFAC tray is the ice cream sandwich behind that red sports drink and the second cookie.  😉  Yes, yes I did!  And I deserved it!

The new strategy I tried for this test?  Stopping short of the minute time limit during the pushups and sit-ups.  I had heard it from someone else, the idea that you should figure out on your charts when it’s “not worth it” it to proceed further because of the point values, for the sake of saving your energy.  After 23 pushups and 40 sit-ups for me, it required too many more repetitions to get the next point, so I just stopped and saved my energy.  Let me warn you – don’t try this strategy at BMT.  This is more one for the operational AF, since the MTIs will be yelling at you if you stop short versus giving it your all until the very end.

Hope you had a great weekend!  Keep positive when thinking about your PT tests – if I can do it, you can do it!  Take time to encourage each other too.  During each step of the way, I tried to keep my wingmen motivated to meet their own goals.  We all need our cheerleading sections!

Enlisted on FOX

Source: Enlisted on FOX

When the promotions team from the new FOX show Enlisted reached out to me to check out their new show, I jumped at the opportunity.  I’d seen a preview or two on the TV, and had a good feel for what to expect.  I finally had the opportunity over my winter break to sit down and watch four uncut, preliminary episodes, including the pilot.  The show started a bit slow for me, as I was wrangling my daughter, but as I kept at it I found that I really enjoyed it.  What was even more surprising was that DH was just as transfixed by the program, which had him laughing through numerous comedic moments.  Whoa there!  My husband is a hard man to please when it comes to military-based shows, being a veteran of three branches of service.  Media representations of the military that fall short annoy him, and he can’t see past inaccuracies to buy into the plot, no matter how well written.  He used to roll his eyes and make negative comments when I would settle in with Army Wives on the DVR.

Enlisted is different, much in the way that M.A.S.H. or Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. were different.  They’re military shows, yes, but the show’s themes emerge not through the portrayal of military conflict, but the interaction and relationships of their characters.  They’re friends, family, and they also happen to be soldiers.  We see mentorships, leaders struggling with their roles, friendships forming, and relationships blooming, all in the context of a military setting.

The show has apparently received some negative feedback, although I haven’t seen any of it online.  Some people are complaining about inaccuracies like haircuts out of regulation, overweight soldiers, grooming standards, etc.  Really, folks?  What’d you expect?  It’s a comedy.  Not to say that the Enlisted team didn’t receive military advisement.  To appease the nay-sayers, they’re doing a “Spot Our Snafus” contest, so go ahead and take notes while you watch – pick it apart!

As for those that claim this show is disrespectful to the military, I think that’s a little far fetched.  Like any other source of comedy, the show magnifies characteristics, both positive and negative.  The hearts of the creators are in the right place, and the Enlisted team is really connected to their viewers. My question about who’d be watching on the AHE FB page last night hit Twitter and it blew up!  A simple question for my readers was acknowledged and appreciated over and over by the creator, the writers, a producer, an actor, and so forth.  It was like IMDB threw up on my Twitter Interactions.

Ultimately, Enlisted provides a great opportunity to unwind at the end of a long week, poke fun at ourselves, and have a good laugh.  We need that, especially during wartime.  We face the harsh realities of our duty day in and day out.  Laughter is cathartic, we owe it to ourselves.

Enlisted premieres on FOX this Friday, January 10th, at 9:30/8:30 central.

Mind Tricks and Running Tips

Source: J. Boone Pooler Photography

Not everyone enlists in the military with a background in running or a passion for running.  I know I didn’t.  I couldn’t run a solid mile when I first started.  The reality is, running is 60% of your PT score.  If that freaks you out and/or you have testing anxiety, this post is aimed at you and how to better prepare yourself mentally and physically for the running portion of your fitness assessment.  Please keep in mind that I am not an athletic trainer/coach and/or a doctor.  These are some things that have worked for me and may just work for you!

  • Find a track.  Ideally, find a standard, artificial turf track in your local area, like at your nearest high school.  One lap is a quarter mile, and six laps will give you that 1.5 mile distance that you’re required to do for your PT test.  Start practicing on that track.  I find that when I hit a track after not being on one for a while, I get really anxious.  I like to train for my PT test on an actual track to help reduce the anxiety on testing day.
  • Start easy.  It’s really easy when you’re nervous to take off way faster than you’re comfortable with.  Start off at a comfortable pace.  Most running sources recommend that you be able to talk while running to determine if you’re pushing yourself at an appropriate level.  If you can’t talk, you’re overexerting yourself.  Heads up, the MTIs will try to tell you differently.
  • Focus on form.  If it’s a day where I’m exhausted and not running at my normal/fastest pace, I slow it down and think about my form versus thinking about how slow/fast I’m running.  Practice working on your form so that it becomes natural for you.    
  • Hydrate.  This goes without saying and you’ll get it hammered into you at BMT.  You need to hydrate.  Not the day of your run either, the day prior.  The hydration you do the day before affects your performance the next day.  Keep that in mind if you’re training heavily.
  • Pace yourself.  See if you can make it around the track in 2:15.  If you can keep up that pace, you’re in good shape.  That’s the time of the timed run down at BMT.  If you have a hard time of gauging this, go ahead and grab a buddy to run with you.  During a PT test in the operational AF, it is permissible to have a pacing buddy to keep you motivated and to help you keep time.  If you can’t do it just yet, go as slow as you need to, just don’t stop running.  That’s the biggest thing, since once you start walking down at BMT, the MTIs are all over you.  It’s easier to pick up the pace from a slow jog than it is to start running again after you’ve been walking.
  • Mind over music.  While MP3 players are allowed in the operational AF while testing, you will not be allowed to listen to any music while at BMT.  That may be an adjustment for you if you typically use music to relax or motivate yourself while running.  I used the time while running at BMT to think about my goals, envision myself running races back home, or to “race” the person just ahead of me and see if I could get past them.  Keep your mind busy, it’s some of the only time you have to think.
  • Countdown to finish.  Being a mathematician, I like to spend my time on the track calculating just how much more I have left.  Rather than thinking of each lap as “I just finished my 3rd,” I mentally say to myself, “I’m on my 4th!”  It’s the little things for me, mentally.  Here’s how I break it down while on the track:
    • 1.5 Laps – 25% down!
    • 2 Laps – 1/3 of the way done!
    • 3 Laps – Halfway done!
    • 4 Laps – 2/3 of the way done!
    • 4.5 Laps – 75% done!
  • Treat your feet.  I’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating.  If you can afford to purchase a new pair of shoes before you leave, do it.  Go to a local running shop and get properly fitted for running shoes based upon your gait and foot strike.  Break them in before you go down to BMT.  Your feet will thank you.  
Need more help with your running?  Try the Couch-to-5K program if you’re a brand new runner.  Best of luck to you – you can do this!

Resolution: Fit For Duty

Happy New Year!  Three years ago, I made the decisions to contact a recruiter and begin the process to serve my country.  I made January 1st my suspense date, and held myself accountable.

Perhaps you’re in that same position this year.  There’s so many factors up in the air during this process.  Will they have a position for you?  Will you get a high enough score on your ASVAB?  Will your medical history hold you back?  Will they find something wrong with you at MEPS?  

One thing you can and must do is to get in shape, if you’re not already.  Not a runner (like me when I started – I couldn’t do a mile nonstop at this altitude )?  Well, it’s time to become one!  Being in good physical shape is a requirement for the military, and plus, it’s going to make your life much easier while at BMT if you go in there with some level of conditioning under your belt.

Not sure what to do or where to get started?  If you’re one of those individuals that needs a plan that you can follow, versus trying to come up with something on your own, you’re in luck!

Designed for those already in the Air Force, the Fit For Duty program of conditioning is meant to prepare you for your fitness assessment. 

In addition to a detailed training regime listed on their website, there are step-by-step pictures of each exercise, a downloadable Exercise Library PowerPoint of the workout routine (183 pages!), and twenty-six YouTube videos to accompany your training.  Pretty dang comprehensive if you’re looking for some direction in your fitness routine.

Enjoy and Aim High!

Go Guard!

Wait, what?  Isn’t Erin a Reservist?

Yes, yes I am!  But AHE recognizes that your Air Force provides you with choices, and that you must do what’s best for you, your career goals, and your family.  There are some common experiences for all three (active duty, AFR, ANG), but they are each their own unique beasts in other areas.  I write from my perspective as a Reservist and there’s just some questions I can’t answer without referring you to another subject matter expert (SME).  

Dina began her Air Force career as an active duty Airman, but switched to the Guard through the Palace Chase program [more on that in a future post] after having her son.  She is also part of a dual military couple, and married to a fellow Airman as well.  Dina blogs over at

Are you thinking about joining the Air National Guard? 

I’ll tell you, first of all the Air National Guard is a separate service.  We can and do work hand and hand with the National Guard, which is actually the Army.  While of course the Air National Guard is the Air Force.  
Both services work for the state and the federal government but only when called to activation by the president.  But just to clear this up, we work for and get paid by the state.  So whatever state you join the Guard in your big boss is the Governor of the state. 
The Guard responds to state emergencies and tasking sent down to them by the Governor.  Which could be anything from wildfires, flash floods, hurricanes, snow storms, etc.  The Guard is also involved in community programs and is very integrated into the community since many of the members of the unit work within the community during the normal workweek. 
The Guard is located in every single state to include the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and The U.S. Virgin Islands. 
All the jobs that are in the Air Force and the Air Force Reserve are the same exact jobs in the Guard.
The Guard does offer educational benefits such as the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which I bought into and I’m currently using now.  I feel as a Guardsman if you are not working and you have enough time in service that using this option is the best bet due to the BAH stipend.  But you need to have enough time in service to be able to use that option. 
There are also health benefits at a very reasonable rate and some medical things can even be taken care of at an Active Duty clinic if you live in a city near one.
Like the Reserve, the Guard offers Technician positions and Activated Guard positions.  The differences are the benefits to include education, health and rank.  AGR positions are basically just like being the Active Duty counter-part only you don’t move. 
Another similarity to the Reserve is that the Guard is required to work one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year.  However, depending on your unit you do not have to work the entire two weeks at one time.  You can split your days up over the course of the fiscal year. 
If you choose to move to another state a positive is that you don’t have to give up your time in the Guard.  You can transfer to different Guard units to include the territories.  The only downside to the Guard is if you are married to an Active Duty Service member it can be tricky with finding you a new unit.  It is very easy to move stateside.  However, if you spouse gets orders overseas you might have to consider transferring to the Air Force Reserve since they do have positions overseas.  Or going in what is called inactive ready reserve (IRR), which is basically taking a break in service until you return to the states.  If your unit were out of this world awesome a final option would be that your unit would allow you to complete all of your drill weekends and annual training days at one time. 
Another perk about being in the Guard is you are able to travel military air for a very, very, very….did I say very?  Very, good price.  You would be able to travel to all the continental United States and Alaska and Hawaii. 
You would also be able to take advantage of Active Duty privileges such as the commissary and the base exchange if you are near a active military base.  This includes other military services too!
And finally the most fantastic thing about being in the Guard is the people you work with.  Many of them have been in the unit a very long time.  Which is a good thing, because they are very good at their jobs.  Also if you are unhappy with your job, it is not difficult to retrain in the Guard like it is Active Duty.  As long as you qualify for a job you are able to move to that job.  Which provides a lot of new opportunities and job growth. 
Just don’t forget that even though the Guard does work for the state there are still chances that you can deploy in support of contingency operations. 
The Guard is an amazing service and has fantastic people.  

Thank you Dina!  I hope this helps shed some light on the differences and opportunities that the ANG has to offer! – Erin  

This is how we do it!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, the Air Force way!  You know, that involves Chuck Norris, naturally.  Can’t knock one of the most famous Airmen around!  Aim High, Chuck!  I love me a C-17 C-5 too!  [Thanks Bryan for calling me out on that one!]

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays.  May you be surrounded by loved ones, be they family, friends, or flight members!

What do I get my Airman?!

Air Force BMT Graduation Gifts

Air Force BMT Graduation Gifts by aimhigherin featuring holiday wreaths

Garmin Forerunner 210 / USAF Wreath / Air Force 40 Challenge Coin Holder / Reebok Boots / ABU iPad Case / USAF Toiletry Kit / H-D USAF Pin-up Pilsner Set / Membership – National Musuem of the United States Air Force / Rocky S2V / Black 3 Day Pass

I often see folks wondering what to get their favorite Airman for graduation from BMT.  Trust me, your mere presence at graduation weekend is a gift enough!  Your freshly minted Airman is thankful to have you there to celebrate their accomplishments and take them out for a real meal on the town.  Remember, they haven’t been able to eat a meal in peace and at their leisure in weeks, let alone indulge in dessert, most likely. 

That being said, if you’re wanting to drop some coin, I’m here to help with some ideas to get you started!

**My favorite gift couldn’t be included in the collage above, but it’s worth a look.  The Airman Legacy Paver.  For $55 you can have a personalized paver on the bomb run at Lackland AFB.  The pavers that your Airman will march over during parade?  Very significant, very meaningful.  This is where your Airman’s career started – help them make their mark.  These pavers support the construction and development of the Airman Heritage Museum.**

Garmin Forerunner 210 – This is a GPS watch for running that also monitors your heart rate.  I have a similar watch for my own training, and they’re fantastic.  I purposefully selected this watch because it is all black, meaning your Airman could wear it while in uniform as well.  That next PT test will be here before you know it, and why not keep the momentum going, since your Airman is probably in fantastic shape right now!

Air Force Wreath – This may seem a little different, but what about an AF wreath to show some pride at home?  If your Airman has already bought everything they need/want and you need to think a little out of the box, this is a great way to tastefully fly your colors at home.  

AF Museum Membership – Is your Airman more culturally minded, or upholding a long family tradition of AF/military services?  What about an annual membership to the National Museum of the United States Air Force?  Even if they can’t make it out to Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, that often, they would still appreciate receiving their quarterly journal and supporting the preservation of our history.

3 Day Pass Bag – This is a fantastic backpack that will serve your Airman well whether they’re toting study materials around their tech school base or their gear once permanent party.  I purposefully picked black (versus the ABU style that I own) because it’s not only cheaper but more versatile.  Solid black bags must be worn/carried when a member is wearing their blues.  Tons of storage, tons of organization, this is a solid buy and can be personalized if you buy a name tape to go across the front.

ABU iPad Case – If your Airman is an Apple-lover, they’ll enjoy this iPad case.  It’s a trifold style with slots for a pen/stylus and cards.  Your iPad is zippered into its section and there’s a microfiber cleaning pad included.  The trifold style allows you to prop it up for viewing and you can personalized it with a name tape across the front.  I bought this for my iPad and my DH quickly commandeered it.  With so many maintainers using iPads now, this is a great option.

Challenge Coin Rack – You’d be amazed at how quickly you can accumulate challenge coins while in the military.  I have always loved these AF logo shaped racks, and the open top allows them to accommodate irregularly shaped coins.  Keep in mind that your Airman will need desk/table space to accommodate this item, as it is not a wall-mountable rack.

Harley AF Pin-Up Pilsner – The AF crowd is no stranger to a craft beer, as you’ll soon learn.  If your Airman is also a Harley-Davidson motorcycle enthusiast they’ll really get a kick out of this pin-up pilsner set.  Just remember that they’re not allowed to drink until tech school, and only if they’re of legal age and not in uniform/not during the duty day.

AF Toiletry Bag – Another recommendation from personal experience, this toiletry bag is perfect for vacation or a short TDY.  Tons of pockets and organization loops inside, this has a hanging hook and a mirror inside.  Ladies, you’ll love the elastic loops on the inside for makeup brushes and other small items.  I can get out of town with just this one toiletry bag, rather than having a separate bag for makeup.  Again, buy a plain name tape to slip in the front to personalize!

New Boots – Chances are, your Airman will be ready to ditch their issued boots once they finish BMT in favor of a more comfortable pair.  The two pairs shown are mine and DH’s boots of choice.  As a maintainer, he loves these Reeboks with their side-zip and composite toes for safety.  Easy on, easy off, no lacing required, and a sturdy, comfortable sole for all day on the flightline.  While I’m not on my feet all day like he is, these Rocky boots are comfortable, have great traction for our snowy conditions, and offer great padding through the shaft of the boot.

Keep in mind that your Airman will have very limited space and restrictions on what they can bring along to tech school.  Worse come to worst, you can always mail items to them at their tech school location.