Dustin Weeks joined the Air Force Reserves out of Maxwell Air Force Base in 2008, and was part of the 357 Airlift Squadron after already establishing his career as an A&P mechanic working on helicopters. Weeks wanted to serve his country and to travel.
“I joined the Reserves after I had already completed college for my A&P license. I wanted to serve my country and to travel.”
Weeks says he learned discipline, responsibility and self accountability while in service. “You are totally responsible for yourself. There is no one to blame, your parents can’t get you out of a bind,” Weeks said. “If your superiors told you to be somewhere at a certain time you had to do it or deal with the consequences.”
After basic training and tech school Weeks was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He said during his service he also traveled to Africa and all over Europe as well as other places.
Weeks said that the military provides structure that is beneficial to many people.
“You learn to get up at certain times, complete your assignments or missions and to be on time. It’s structure that a lot of kids could really use.”
Weeks was a C130H Load Master responsible for weight and balance and air drop. “My job primarily was to load and unload aircraft. I had to monitor weight and balance. I was responsible for deploying paratroopers and dropping equipment to troops. We did a lot of carrying people to where they needed to be. At times it was a dangerous job. The hours were long and the stress was high. I was glad to be able to serve my country.”
Weeks learned a lot during his time in the Reserves, life lessons that he still utilizes in his civilian job. “I learned to be open minded to people and the way they live. Down here we aren’t taught to be open minded,” Weeks said. “It’s not just the places that you go. It is the people you are in the military with— everybody is not raised like you and you may be rooming with someone or on a deployment with someone from another part of the country and you just have to learn how to get along with them.”
Weeks said one of the many benefits of joining the military is the college and training available. “Soldiers are able to train in so many areas. College tuition assistance in addition to the GI Bill is a really great thing to consider when deciding on a career path. I would say to research your options and if there is something you feel really passionate about doing, do it,” Weeks said. “There are a lot of options and career fields. I think joining the military is great. It is good for boys and girls, men and women.”
Weeks said there are many options that do not put you in active combat and you are still serving your country. “There are lots of options where you are not out there kicking down doors and getting shot at. Some people want to be in combat. They want to be in the field. There is plenty for them also.”
Another aspect of serving in the military is meeting new people. Weeks said that everywhere you go there are people to meet. “Sometimes you will find people you have served with before but there is always opportunity to meet new people. Some of them you can keep up with and some you lose touch with. I still keep up with some of the people I was in the military with. You develop life long friendships.”
Weeks left the Reserves in 2012 and became a civilian helicopter mechanic at Fort Rucker. He said that he is still serving his country, just in a different way.
“Even though I am not active duty I am still serving our country making sure the helicopters are safe to fly,” Weeks said. “There are a lot of people that work out at Fort Rucker that have never been in the military but they are working on helicopters or training the Air Force and the Army. There is a lot of responsibility involved in that— it is not like a regular vehicle, if it breaks down you can’t just pull over. When you are in the air it just is not that way. There are a lot of good people that have never served in the military but are serving the military through civilian jobs.”
Juggling military and civilian life was not easy for Weeks.
“Even though I was in the Reserves I was expected to keep up the same standards as an active duty soldier. It was a task of keeping civilian life and military life in order and on schedule and not be late. It instilled in me the importance of time management.”
Weeks now enjoys serving his country through helicopter maintenance and enjoys spending time with his family and pursuing his hobbies.
“It was a fast paced life; I was always busy. Now I get to enjoy family time and can also feel like I am serving my country.”