Michelle A. Smullen (Military Issue 2021)
"SALUTING MY STEPS WITH THE LORD"
Living in Virginia Beach, VA, allowed me to have a Good Life; meeting my husband in high school and building our family here. I entered the military Airforce Reserves after getting married. I was the mother of a five-year-old daughter at the time, and I decided to leave her in my husband's care while I went through my boot camp training. My decision to join the military forces was to follow in my Dad’s footsteps since he was a retired Airforce member, and my wish was to make him proud. He was a massive part of my motivation, so keeping him smiling was my mission. My first night was a process, I was scared and unsure why I committed to joining, and I cried the whole night.
My thoughts of leaving my daughter made me more emotional, and being a newlywed was weighing heavy on me because I missed my husband. I always walked with God, and I remember the voice of the Lord instructing me to move forward, and I did by calling the Airforce recruiter. That stayed with me and kept me with the feeling of surety during boot camp training. It was something that I had never experienced before, but I reminisced on my Dad's stories that he shared with me of him going through this same process during his training. I found myself to be favored because I felt the spirit of God always watching over me. I knew this because, at times, I had difficulty with assignments given to me, and I believed it would be a damaging strike against me, but I always gained “PEACE.”
The positive feeling that I carried was “The belief that they couldn't do anything to me.” (My Training Instructors) All the yelling and corrections they tried to put on me didn't intimidate me at all. I was also able to meet a great girl; she was considered my angel. Her name was “JESSICA.” She was a believer as well, and we got along great. Jessica was a lot younger than me, had just graduated high school, had no children, wasn't married but had a strong belief in “GOD.” We became terrific friends; while in boot camp and tech school, she helped me get through so much. We attended church services together, and she always prayed with me; she understood me and my reasons for being emotional when I missed my family.
She understood my love for God, and it was then I knew the Lord placed her there to assure me I would get through the transition. I wasn't sure how I’d make it, but I became an element leader within six weeks. I had gone from crying and wondering why I chose to join to now being a leader. I didn't foresee this happening at all; I just wanted to get through the six weeks to be back with my family. I began gaining so much strength when the Lord spoke to me. Acknowledging that he’s always with me no matter what I’m doing or how I fear things, I know God is with me! His plan for this happening was perfect because I needed to complete my initial training from tech school, but was “washed back” for not successfully executing a required skill. Therefore, I was delayed from completing my course by two weeks, which devastated me since I was ready to move forward. I wanted to finish and get home to begin my actual reserve duty, but I had to rearrange my craft again. I knew then that the Lord planned this as well; My good friend Jessica and I separated at this time and we never talked again. This was my confirmation that she was there for that reason, to help me complete my assignment and get through my training.
While focusing on getting through tech school after being washed back, I met another great friend that is still a part of my life today, her oldest son is my godson. She helped me get through my last portion of training; when I was in doubt, she gave me confidence and was also a believer. I know the Lord was consistently placing the proper people in my life to help me complete my mission, even when I believed it to be complicated. He always presented a gifted person in front of me. I realized why I joined, and always kept in the forefront of my mind to be prepared to go to war if and when the time came with boots on the ground. Some people have different motivational reasons for joining the military, but my reasons were for such a great purpose, and it allowed me to learn so much. When I returned home and settled in as an active reservist, I always remember that I received the best of both worlds. This was perfect while I was establishing my life and getting it in order. My husband and I decided to grow our family, and I had another child while I was in an active role in the military. I obtained a skill as a medical tech with clinical knowledge as a civilian and got promoted as a nursing coordinator without a nursing degree. I was so pleased with my services and the skills I learned because it allowed me to maintain this excellent position due to my high skill set. I was the leader who managed nurses with degrees, and I know for sure it was all God’s work. While continuing to live an Airforce reservist life, I planned to retire at twenty years, but my dad became sick. I began to think about the obligation that I signed up for, and I also worried about not being there for my dad since I was the one that needed to take care of him.
After thinking things through and with much consideration, I decided to withdraw from an active reserve status so I would not be responsible for going out on deployment should something happen to my Dad. I allowed myself to complete the six-year contract, and I didn't re-enlist afterward. I was able to care for my father for the last two and a half years that I needed to before his passing, and most of all I made him very “Proud.” I remember him having his chest poked out with gratefulness that his daughter followed in his footsteps. I’m so thankful for all the experiences that I received in the Airforce. I never experienced any sexism or racism while being a member of the military.