B United: Jessica Davidson, U.S. Air Force

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1.     Name: Jessica Davidson

2.     Age: 29

3.     Hometown: Wilmington, Ohio 

4.     Branch: Air Force

5.     Job Title: Cyberspace Operations Officer

6.     Job Description: Jobs have varied with each assignment, but I currently work in the Department of Defense Information Network (DoDIN) Operations arena. 

7.     Enlist Date: May 2013

What motivated you to join the military? Military is in my family. I wanted to continue the tradition. My father served over 30 years in the Air Force as a maintenance troop. My grandfather also served in the Air Force. I have cousins and uncles that have served in the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard. The military was something I decided on at the age of 13.

8.     Why did you choose this branch?I grew up around the Air Force as a result of my father being in. I loved the environment and comradery and wanted my career to follow in my father’s footsteps. He is my role model from both a professional and personal standpoint. He had a high operational tempo job and he worked hard, yet he still always had time for his family. 

9.    Tell me a little about your time in boot camp.

My field training was only a month long. I did Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at Miami University in Ohio. Between my sophomore and junior year of college, I attended the month long Field Training at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama and Camp Shelby in Mississippi. I honestly found Field Training to be easy mainly because of the discipline that was enforced at home growing up. I had a great experience in ROTC…made lifelong friends from it. 

10. Where have you traveled to while in the service? 

I have been stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi at Keesler Air Force Base, Destin, Florida at Eglin Air Force Base and in San Antonio, Texas at Lackland Air Force Base. I have also deployed twice. First deployment was in Kuwait and now I’m currently deployed to Qatar. I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Iraq recently as well. I’ve also done various work trips throughout the United States.

11. What are some things you miss most about home when you are deployed?

While the places I’ve been deployed to are not remote locations like in Iraq, there are some things that make me miss the freedoms we have in America. For instance, not having a car to go anywhere and everywhere I want is a luxury we have in America that I miss. I also miss being able to go do what I want, when I want. We have to get permission to leave base and we have a curfew here. I miss being able to cook. I also miss my friends at home, but the people at my job here have become a family which makes the deployment that much more enjoyable. 

12. Which medals or citations are you most proud to have earned and why? 

I have earned medals from jobs and my first deployment but I would say the thing I am most proud to earn was my certification to be a Victim Advocate for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program. Something I’m really passionate about is helping people. Unfortunately, sexual assault is still a problem in the military. I went through the certification process during my first deployment. Earning that cert and utilizing it at a previous base allowed me to take care of people in times of need and to be that is more rewarding of an experience than a medal I have earned for doing my daily job. 

13. What rank are you most proud to have earned and why?

All of them. While progressing through officer ranks is pretty set based on timelines (after two years you are a 1stLieutenant and after four years you make Captain), I fully believe that my rank is not for me, but rather it’s for my people. I stand by the notion that with each rank I promote to is meant to be used to get the obstacles out of my people’s way so that they can better execute the mission. 

14. What are some of the biggest challenges of being a woman in the military?

This is a topic I frequently try to shed light on amongst women and men in the military mainly because we all have different experiences. I have personally struggled at times in a male dominant world that is built around Type-A personalities. From my perspective, empathy and care are crucial to being a leader however I have had male leaders think drastically differently and as a result I have had to overcome those barriers in order to be there for my troops when they needed it. To put it bluntly, I have been in situations where my commander has told me it is not appropriate for me as a female to talk about personal problems with men. I disagree with that viewpoint because no matter what our gender is, I view everyone the same because we are all human. In that specific instance where I was told not to be involved as much in my troop’s lives, all three were men going through a divorce at the same time. To me, as a leader, it is on me to be there for them when they need it. To be told to not be there for someone is in direct contradiction to my character and it took a long time to overcome that battle with that commander.

I do think that women tend to have a harder time in the military just because of the male dominant career fields, but I do think there are plenty of opportunities to overcome those. For instance, I’ve been blessed with two male leaders that had exceptional emotional intelligence. Those two leaders have always pushed for me to be myself and that has been a comfort that has made my job much easier. It takes leaders like that to break down the barriers that women have had to overcome in the military.

While it is tough being a female in the military, I would still urge women to join because it takes strong women to combat the culture of a male dominant world and it allows women to show what we are capable of. Some of the General’s that I look up to in the military are females…and there’s nothing more powerful than seeing a female General Officer showing what women are capable of in front of a room full of men J

15. Tell me about some of the special people you have met.

So many…I’ve had core groups of people from all my assignments that I still keep in touch with today. My best friend is a female in the military and she and I still talk almost everyday even though we haven’t been stationed together for five years.

My first deployment was the best experience I have had in the military and that is because of the people I met there. They were my family away from home and we still keep in touch. 

16. Do you plan to retire in the military? Or what are your post-military plans? 

I like to play each assignment as if it’s my last assignment. I thought I was going to separate after my first assignment, but I’m still in 5 years after that.  I would love to retire from the military and I’ll keep doing it as long as I am enjoying it - but as soon as it becomes not enjoyable, I will move on. Ultimately, I would love to do something along the lines of what a Victim Advocate does (the certification I mentioned in question 15). I love helping people and that job would easily be a passion of mine. 

17. How has your service and experiences affected your life?

I have many unforgettable experiences in the military. I’ve had the opportunity to travel throughout America, Europe and the Middle East because of the military. My deployments are easily the most memorable opportunities I’ve been given while I’ve been in. The people are also a huge part of why I stay in. Some of my best friends are in the military. While there are pros and cons to being in, I don’t think the level of closeness you get with the people you work with in the military would be the same in the civilian sector. 

18. What do you like to do for fun?

I love to travel. My Europe trips have been a ton of fun. I love sports. I mainly watch football and hockey. I like being outdoors so camping/bonfires, paddle boarding, hiking and shooting are other hobbies of mine. When I want to relax I like to read. I love hanging out with my friends. I am a basic girl at heart so obviously love going shopping, going to brunch and getting manicures/pedicures.  I also love to run. I used to hate running when I was younger but it’s the one thing I can do to clear my head and de-stress.

19. How do you stay in shape?

My workouts have varied over the years. I used to be into heavy lifting. I was diagnosed with endometriosis back in 2015. I had the pain that comes with endo since 2012 but I just ignored it for awhile until it became unbearable. I had surgery in 2015 to have the tissue that migrated to different parts of my body burned out. Since then, the pain has come back. Lifting heavy has affected my workouts because I tend to be in pain afterwards. However, leg day is still my favorite - but I’ve had to tailor my lifting workouts to minimize pain. Because I love running so much, I haven’t changed my workouts in that aspect and I’ll gladly deal with the endo pain to get my runs in. 

20. What makes you feel strong?

Running. My calves are super strong so I love doing calf raises in the gym and hearing how well I’m doing my job.

21. Favorite part of your job: 

Meeting new people with each new assignme