When I first was thinking about enlisting, I was definitely going through the teenage years, not really knowing what I wanted to do. I wanted to do something business-related, but at the same time I wasn’t too keen on going directly to college. I wasn’t really mature enough to go to college at the time. So I looked at the Military and said, ”OK, this is a different way of doing things.”
I joined the Navy and went to Basic Training the following November. They had a storekeeper rating available, so after Boot Camp I went to school in Meridian, Miss. They gave you a general overall overview of logistics, accounting and other business-related fields.
One of the greatest things about being in the Military is that you can have a job, like being a logistics specialist, and you can do inventory for a year. You can go off and do accounting. You can be a purchasing manager. It really gives you a broad spectrum of opportunity within one job.
On a typical day, I obligate money to different accounts, contact vendors, set up contracts. We manage aviation parts for all the different commands within the flight line, the helicopters and the planes. We also manage official travel and then anything needed to run regular facility services.
We normally have about 20 commands we support directly, and then we do an assessment prior to the start of the fiscal year and ask them what their requirements are. The easiest way to do it is look at the prior history, and when they give us their projections, we will go back and say, “Oh, well, last fiscal year you spent this amount of money.” And then we’ll look at what they’re giving us. We’re using taxpayer dollars, so we’re trying to be cost-efficient and effective with the money.
As my boss always told me, “You can’t be a yes man; you have to tell a guy that’s five pay grades higher than you, ‘No, you can’t get it, sir.’ ” And you have to be able to say that. You have to be smooth and do it clearly and concisely, not making them mad but giving them accurate information. And what I’ve learned is that even if these people really want supplies that are not authorized, they’ll actually respect you in the long run.
When you have a breakthrough moment that takes you to the limit professionally and you succeed, you are so proud of yourself. These experiences make you love what you do for your command, the Military and for your country. And, ultimately, I think if I transitioned out of the Military, I’d probably want to work for a company that had maybe a government contract or had some kind of ties to the Military, so I’d feel like I can continue doing my part.