“Well, I’ve kinda always done everything a little backwards, I guess… but I always wanted to try to give back. And I knew that [joining the Military] was one way.”
Lynn Fletcher was not your typical recruit. He was 34 years old when he enlisted, had two children and nearly two decades in a civilian career. But in one very important way, he was like most others with a calling to serve. He wanted to make a difference.
Though Lynn enlisted at an older age, he first explored the Military right out of high school. He was intrigued but chose to work at a local grocery store, save money and go to school for his bachelor’s degree in the evenings. During this time, he also got married. Before Lynn knew it, between receiving his degree, becoming an accountant and moving around to follow his wife’s career as an X-ray technician, he had two children and was in his late 20s. It was in his early 30s, however, when Lynn and his wife decided to separate, that Lynn started re-evaluating his priorities.
“I was thinking through everything that I wanted to still do, and [joining the Military] was one of them… So I looked at the National Guard. Because I thought, OK, I could work full time and still be able to hang out with my kids.”
Upon speaking to a recruiter, Lynn enlisted with the Army National Guard and chose a military career field.
“You get to pick a career field. And if the unit you’re going into does not have that career field, then they give you a different option to choose from or place you in a different unit where that career field is available to you… I ended up choosing [Human Resources] because I was interested in it, and I had worked in the area a fair amount in my civilian job.”
Lynn attended Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training and then headed home. Because Guardsmen drill only two weeks a year and weekends, Lynn particularly enjoyed the unique balance of civilian work, state service (such as responding to stateside natural disasters or heightened security requests) and federal service.
“There’s Active Duty, there’s Reserve and there’s Guard… We all work for the federal government… But the Guard supports a couple [of] different things. They support not only federal missions, but also state missions as well… [Guard] is really state first, and then federal.”
This distinction holds true for both the Army National Guard and Air National Guard, which proved important for Lynn.
“A friend of mine was in the Air Guard, and he said, “Why don’t you ever think about joining the Air Guard?” ... I got to looking at it and did more research, and thought, man, that’s a better fit for me.”
Attracted to the Air National Guard for its flexibility, career opportunities and the fact there was an Air National Guard base in Omaha, where he was currently living, Lynn spoke to a recruiter and made the switch.
“Everything transferred over… I did not have to go to boot camp again. I wanted to stay in the same career field. And I was fortunate. One — they had a spot. And two — I didn’t have to do any additional training.”
At 39 years old, Lynn currently works in the Air National Guard at the United States Strategic Command in information management. His job entails managing instructions and publications used for policy, procedures and processes within the command. It is mostly administrative work and includes reviewing, editing and formatting publications and forms for compliance. Although he likes his work, has a degree and is qualified to become an officer, Lynn identifies with being enlisted.
“I like the enlisted side. I truly feel that the backbone of the Military is the enlisted people. And I’m one of those types of people that like to be in the trenches.”
Lynn’s point of view has also been shaped by a deep sense of camaraderie.
“I’ve met a lot [of] great people. These same people that I’ve met, we’re all in this to serve and do our part. It’s like a brotherhood.”
For this reason, and other benefits such as health care, career satisfaction and the fact Lynn can pass along his Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to his two children, he’s thoroughly enjoying his time in service.
“I just enjoy this life… there’s just so many unbelievable opportunities within the Military that don’t even deal with going over and fighting in a war zone… I have no intentions of leaving my Guard unit.”