MEEKER | Q: What were you doing the specific moment you decided to join the military? (Whose house, where were you sitting? Who was with you?)
A: I actually considered joining the military on two separate occasions. The first time, I had just returned home from living in South America for three months after college, and was really trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. I knew I wanted to go to law school, but didn’t think it was the best time. My brother was in the Air Force at the time and encouraged me to look into joining. I thought long and hard about it, but didn’t think it was the right time. But I continued to consider it. Once I was in law school, I thought about it again, and while I was interning at a nearby base, I decided I wanted to apply. The actual moment I realized I was going to join happened when I was at my brother’s house studying for my bar exam and I got a call from the Lieutenant Colonel I worked for at the base, telling me congratulations and I was accepted into the JAG Corps.
Q: What was the deciding factor that drove your decision to military service? (An event, person, place?)
A: My brother encouraged me the most to join while he was serving in the Air Force, and seeing how greatly he benefited from his service, and how much he enjoyed it, really opened me to the possibility. That, and a strong desire to serve my country drove the actual decision to join.
Q: What did it feel like when you finished BMT and learned what your career path would be? What was your first assignment? (What important lessons did you learn from your first assignment?)
A: I knew what my career path was before training, but accomplishing training was something else. Up at 430, PT until dawn, march to mealtime, death by PowerPoint, lights out at 2330—wash, rinse, repeat. First assignment was to Edwards AFB. When I first learned I was going there, I didn’t know where it was. When I told my brother, the first thing he said was, “Edwards?! Oh man! That’s in the middle of nowhere!” This is true. When I first arrived there, it really was in the middle of nowhere. But, that’s also what made it so memorable. I lived with my colleagues
Q: Can you summarize what Air Force life has been like for you up till you found out you were deploying to ADAB?
Desert, desert and more desert. My first assignment was to Edwards AFB in southern California, in the Mojave Desert. My second assignment was Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, still in the Mojave Desert. Now I’m here in another desert, which at times is much, much hotter than the prior ones. But within those assignments I experienced the two extremes of typical base legal offices—a slow paced, moderately busy one, followed by perhaps one of the busiest offices a young JAG attorney or paralegal could experience. So really, as far as work goes, it’s been learning and expanding my expertise on a near constant basis. As for life outside work, it’s been incredible. On top of living in new areas far different than home in the Colorado mountains, I had the amazing luck to meet the love of my life and marry her just this past year. Now we get to experience the deserts together!
Q: What are you doing here at ADAB? What is your day like, and how do you feel connected to the mission? What about your job makes you feel like you have intended purpose at ADAB. (Example: What are you doing to help contribute to the overall fight, what are you feeling when you do your specific job or when you help someone?
A: I’m the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate at the ADAB legal office. In this job, I cover a lot of the areas a typical legal office does, but perhaps the most important role I have is simply a legal counselor. We, in the legal office, are here to advise commanders, first sergeants, supervisors, and all Airmen on pretty much anything that involves a legal issue, be it discipline, contracts, publications, legal interpretations, or legal assistance, to name a few. Here at ADAB, by advising key personnel and leadership on these issues and helping others with their more personal legal issues, we help them keep their focus on the task at hand and encourage mission success.
Q: How are you making the best of your deployment?
A: With the long work days and all of the daily extra chores and what not back home, it’s difficult to enjoy some down time. Here, I’ve been able to make the most out of it with longer workouts, reading, and some general leisure. In work I enjoy a little more responsibility than back home, and I’ve been able to expand my interests and experience some new areas of the job. I’ve been taking on as much as I can to really make the most of it. Additionally, I take full advantage of the morale services here, especially to keep in near constant contact with home. While I was certainly looking forward to the deployment, it came at a time that caused me to miss some birthdays, and most significantly my first wedding anniversary with my wife. We have made the most of our time apart, but we’re both looking forward to the end of the tour.
Q: If you could have one thing said about your time in service here at Al Dhafra, what would you want your fellow Airman to say about you?
A: I was a relief. Many times, people will come to me with some legal problem they’re dealing with, be it work related or personal, and we talk out the issues and how best to navigate toward a working solution. Sometimes, at the end of our discussion, I can hear the relief in their voice. That’s what I strive for and enjoy the most in my job. If I can help someone get to that working solution, and it takes the weight of their shoulders, I feel I’ve done something good for them. Sometimes, it may not be the answer or solution they were looking for, but even just helping them understand the problems they face is better than them navigating in the dark, and that can be a relief too.
Q: If you could give your younger self a piece of advice of what your life would be like after you joined the Air Force, what would you say to re-assure your younger self that everything was going to be okay?
A: Don’t sweat the small stuff. You’re going to work harder than you ever have before, but accept the critiques, learn from mistakes, and keep your eye on the prize. The Air Force rocks!
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By TECH. SGT. NICHOLAS CARZIS | Special to the Herald Times