Describe your military experience.
My military encounter was everything I envisioned and more than I expected. The Air Force was my choice because I believed it to be more conducive to the lifestyle I desired. I became financially self-sufficient, received an education in world cultures (from overseas deployments), and obtained two associate degrees (in communications and logistics). I also earned a bachelor’s degree as well as a master’s degree in education. I gained self confidence, a sense of pride, honor, professionalism, and knowing I made a difference. I learned to have the courage to face any adversity.
What principles helped you to prepare for the transition from a military officer to a civilian?
There are several principles I learned growing up. The most important one was to acknowledge God in everything I do. I had to define my priorities; determine what was important to me and establish my primary focus. I had to decide what profession I wanted to pursue after military life. In preparation, I maintained awareness of my career options and used two of the most important commodities in life, time and energy. I used both, time and energy, to obtain my education.
What was the most difficult challenge that you faced when you entered the civilian workforce?
I moved from the top of the chain to the lower tier. I had to adapt to new rules of engagement. In the military, we are taught and encouraged to work as a team to accomplish a task. The reality of the civilian workforce is you can work as a team, as long as you know your place and don’t get in anyone else’s way.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, one of the major reasons for homelessness among younger veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is the lack of income due to inadequate education and transferable skills. How have you avoided this fate?
I stayed in the military long enough to obtain an adequate education and to retire from the military.
According to studies, outstanding debt is more problematic for veterans and active-duty personnel than the average American. What is your opinion on this?
Benefits the military receives should off-set the financial inequality received in civilian status. However, if an individual never gets sick or needs glasses, or extensive dental work, that’s money a military person will never receive. Usually with a civilian’s insurance, you have options to borrow against an insurance policy or at least receive some type of financial dividends after the policy has matured. In the military, you don’t have either option. You just continue to pay until a death occurs, or you discontinue the policy.
What is your worst spending mistake?
My worst spending mistake was not tracking or accounting for my expenditures.
What has been the best money advice that someone has given you?
Pay tithes and offering first, pay myself, and build up my savings account. Always account for my expenditures. Write down what I’m spending my money on and stop spending frivolously.
What money advice would you like to give to someone?
I would like to give the same advice I received because it works for me.
I appreciate Master Sergeant Cain for this interview.
Thank you. I made a commitment to God, my fellow comrades, and my country. I had some good days and some bad. My military experience helped shape me into the person I am now. I wouldn’t trade it for anything! I give God all the glory for the things that He helped me to accomplish.