LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas—Second Lieutenant Jessica Raab, 47th Force Support Squadron, community services deputy flight commander, completed her career-long goal of becoming an officer.
Raab’s father was a U.S. Air Force pilot during the Vietnam War, which influenced her throughout her childhood to follow in his footsteps to commission. Raab enlisted after high school for college opportunities with the goal of commissioning.
Raab began her Air Force career in aircraft maintenance and moved forward as an Airman Leadership School instructor. The process to commission took roughly two and a half years from the time she started the package process to the time she left for Officer Training School.
“I always encourage people who are considering commissioning to go for it,” Raab said. “The Air Force rarely says ‘no,’ and the worst thing that can happen is they may say ‘not right now.’”
To her, the package process was not difficult: however, during the wait when challenges arose, she keep her dream of becoming an officer alive through staying true to her goals.
“It is always important to have short-term and long-term goals planned out, and to have them support each other,” Raab said. “Sometimes, my short-term goals were just to make it through the week, but the reason behind it was always because I wanted to commission.”
She earned her commission through the completion of OTS where she trained for eight and a half weeks at Maxwell AFB, Ala.
Raab reflected on the differences between the two structures.
“As an enlisted Airman, you are the technical expert in whatever career field you find yourself in,” Raab said. “You work side-by-side with airmen who have the same passion you do. You work together, eat together, learn together, struggle together and succeed together.”
On the other hand, as a commissioned Airman, Raab is no longer the technical expert.
“However, I get to see the experts work. I am in a position where I can help provide my flight with what they need to be successful. I get to fight for them, and I get to try and make their job a little easier, so coming to work is just a little bit better.”
For Raab, adjusting to not being the technical expert is the biggest struggle to being an officer after being enlisted.
“When I see issues in a work center, I like to take the problem and try fixing it—as I’m sure anyone does,” Raab said. “However, that is not necessarily my role anymore. Instead, my role is to identify the problems, but then I empower my people to fix the problems themselves. Empowerment of your people is the only thing that fixes problems in the long run.”
Raab tells anyone considering commissioning, never to become stagnant, but always seek the next goal. Keep options open and have a back-up plan. She emphasized that timing will never be better than the present, and the job at hand is never easier than it is currently.
For her, setting up a career that led to becoming an officer was strongly influenced by her will to challenge not only herself, but her peers as well—both personally and professionally.