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It's never too late to restart

Senior Airman Christine Fannin, 927th Force Support Squadron, reflects on her life after leaving the Active Duty Air Force component. Throughout her 12-year break in service, Fannin always felt that something was missing in her life, she realized it was her uniform. Today, she again serves her country, assigned to the 927th Air Refueling Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Staff Sgt. Adam C. Borgman)

Senior Airman Christine Fannin, 927th Force Support Squadron, reflects on her life after leaving the Active Duty Air Force component. Throughout her 12-year break in service, Fannin always felt that something was missing in her life, she realized it was her uniform. Today, she again serves her country, assigned to the 927th Air Refueling Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Staff Sgt. Adam C. Borgman)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Our Air Force stories are as unique as our fingerprints. For me, it started in 1996, I was 20 something years old, and knew I had to change my choices or I would end up exactly like everyone else. I feared I would get some college, but not complete it, get married, have 2.5 kids and never leave Florida.

I heard through a friend of a friend, that one of my high school classmates joined the Air Force. I knew if she could do that, so can I. I found the nearest recruiter and filled out all the necessary paperwork. I took all the appropriate tests and Military Entrance Processing Station, better known as MEPS, was on the calendar for January, 1997. I said good bye to family and friends, dropped my car off with my parents and off I went into the wild blue yonder.

From that day on, my life took drastic changes that I could not have been prepared for; it's exactly what I needed. I got through Basic Military Training and before graduating from technical school, I found out my first duty station would be RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom. While stationed there for three years, I met some amazing people, some of which I still know today, 18-years later.

In those three years, I got married and had a beautiful little girl. I knew it was time to make some more changes for my new family. I made a very hard decision, but felt it was important to move on from the Air Force and return to civilian status. As I signed on the dotted line to exit one of the most memorable rides I've ever had, I paused, only for a second, as I changed my first name from Airman back to Christine.

I went on with my life, but every birthday, I would reflect back on the previous year. The military was always one of those thoughts I would linger on. I felt the Air Force was still part of my unfinished business and I wanted to explore it in further detail.

On my 38th birthday, I decided to take a chance. I made a call that again changed my course. I called that magical 800 number for the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

There were a few questions that I never expected to get past because if even one of them would have been answered no, I would not be in the uniform I wear today. Those questions were: Am I eligible to join? Can I have the AFSC that I want? Can I serve at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida?

The answer was yes. So, at 38-years-old with a 12-year break in service, I swore into the U.S. Air Force Reserve on August 28th, 2013.

I truly believe we are put here on this planet to live, explore and push ourselves beyond our own expectations and limits. With this philosophy, I do not want to have any chances at living unturned or unfinished.

The military with the rules and military bearing, along with being part of less than one-half percent of the population that answered the call left a lasting impression on me. Each civilian job I landed after the military was because of what I learned while serving.

Today, I am an Active Reserve Technician assigned to the 927th Force Support Squadron force management section of the 927th Air Refueling Wing at MacDill AFB. I am proof we can always course correct.

It is never too late to start your story over or begin another adventure. If a person never asks the question, then the answer will never be yes. Why not push the envelope, learn a new task, meet a different group of people and begin your future today?

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