Veteran | 22 years in the U.S. Army
SFC (RET) Alicia A. Cooper, US Army, Communication Security Manager, currently Data Management Specialist for the Space and Missile Center, United States Space Force
I served 22 years in the service. I enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 1, 1989, as a 72E Tactical Telecommunication Center Operator. Throughout my military career, I have held several positions. My primary job was as a Communication Security Manager. My additional duties included a Senior Telecommunication Operator, Information Systems Security Officer, Training Non-Commissioned Officer, Unit Environment Coordinator, Equal Opportunity Representative, Consideration of Others Facilitator, Sexual Assault and Response Coordinator, Unit Alcohol and Drug Coordinator/Prevention Leader and Defense Advisory Council On Women in the Service Representative. Before retirement, my MOS was a 25B Information Technology Specialist but worked as a Communication Security Manager. I am now a Department of the Airforce civilian working as a Configuration and Data Management Specialist for the Space and Missile Center, United States Space Force.
I joined the military after I graduated from high school in May 1988. I was not sure what I wanted to do. Although I could have gone on to college, I felt that I needed to do something different. My brother-in-law was an Army Recruiter in one of our area high schools, and I watch him recruit several students for enlistment, including my older brother. I knew that the Army would give me the opportunity to challenge myself, travel, and broaden my horizons. Any lesson I learned was that I could push myself beyond my limitations, conquer my fears, lead by example, and mentor others. The military also made me a better person by teaching me courage, patience, and understanding.
The military has taught me to be open-minded in trying out new things, meeting new people, and visiting different places.
My perspective of patriotism is that honoring God first, my country, the Constitution of the United States, and what it is meant to represent.
My experiences in transition from active duty to civilian life were filled with uncertainty. I was uncertain because I did not know what to expect before transitioning. I took advantage of utilizing both the Army and Air Force transitioning programs, which gave me assurance and guidance of what I need to do to prepare for civilian life once I retired. Any advice I would provide to others to transition from the military to another life would be to have a plan, do your research, and not get frustrated when applying for jobs or starting your own business.
Things to consider before deciding to serve is that you need to ask yourself, “Are you are ready to adjust to the military lifestyle?”, You would have to be mentally and physically tough to handle situations and the many challenges that may come your way.