AF stands for Air Force

Yessir, I’m in the military! I am a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. My husband is also military, but one rank above me. (No, he is not BETTER – he’s just a year older). Here’s a look at my Air Force career thus far:

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, 2012 – 2016

I earned my undergraduate degree (BS in English) from the United States Air Force Academy in 2016. The Academy is a standard four-year college, but with cadet uniforms, rank, and training. The school teaches you to be a scholar and military officer. Therefore, cadets exchange five years of military service for a free college education (I’ll explain more in a different post). I had a GREAT time at USAFA – no debt and a guaranteed job was worth missing some parties, sorority life, and full summer breaks.

VANDENBERG AFB, AUG 2016 – APR 2017

My Air Force career truly began here, in California. While still a cadet, I was assigned my future field. Upon graduation, I became…

An Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Nuclear Operator.

Say WHAT?! I was an English major who struggled with technical courses and concepts. I had no interest in nuclear weapons, mostly because I knew nothing about them! Luckily, the Air Force prepared me and my fellow operators EXTREMELY well for this responsibility.

Our first assignment was 100 days of intense training. At “the schoolhouse” we learned about nuclear history, technical operations, emergency procedures, and nuclear strategy and execution. The course was split into classroom lessons and simulations, and we were tested in both environments. After graduating in April 2017, I was finally qualified for the real job at an operational base. I went off to North Dakota with a few friends, while other classmates headed for Montana and Wyoming.

MINOT AFB, APR 2017 – AUG 2019

Minot Air Force Base was my first official duty station. I pulled 172 nuclear alerts here; if you’ve ever seen the beginning of War Games, THAT’S ME! (If not, check it out: https://youtu.be/8-T_uhQ0iE4) There are three types of American nuclear weapons, called “the Triad” – submarines, bomber aircraft, and silo-based ballistic missiles. For two years straight, monitoring the silo kind was my job.

Every third day, I drove to a remote Missile Alert Facility (MAF) with one other officer, and took an elevator 70 feet underground. Then we were shut behind two giant blast doors (bank vault-style) for 24 hours to monitor the safety, security, and lawful execution of ten nuclear weapons. Pretty amazing, right? “Missileers,” as we’re called, have manned these posts 24/7/365 since the 1960s.

AIR FORCE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY/HARVARD LAW SCHOOL, 2019-2022

Despite being a student, this IS an official duty assignment – and the start of my new Air Force life! While in school, I’ll remain an active duty military officer. The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) owns my program, so they are ‘responsible’ for me until I graduate and pass the bar. During the academic year I’ll report to an ROTC unit for inspections, routine exams, and military training. In the summer I’ll transition over to Hanscom Air Force Base and work for their legal office. I can’t wait for this new adventure, which will be the blog’s focus for the next few years!

If you have any questions about the Air Force or being a military officer, please shoot me an email or comment below. Additionally, I talk more about my current assignment here: https://rileyv.com/index.php/2019/08/03/i-dont-need-back-ups-funded-legal-education-program/. I don’t pretend to know everything about the military, but I’m happy to answer what I can!

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