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"One Of The Best Things I Ever Did"

At AAA Five County, we are lucky to work with Veterans in a variety of ways. From providing resources and case management to those who need them to helping with screening and enrollment into VA benefits, our staff is grateful for the opportunity to serve those who have served all of us. We are also grateful for those Veterans who have chosen to serve in another way, by joining our volunteer programs. In honor of Veterans Day, we asked one of our wonderful volunteers to share her story about her military experience.

I enlisted in the Air Force and went to basic training on 24 March 1976. I was 19 years old. I had been accepted to pre-med at University of Michigan and attended one semester. I decided that to be a doctor I was going to have to be better at math and chemistry. I excelled in biology and everything else but did not see myself succeeding in the math and chemistry requirements. My mom said one day, "why don't you join the military", and it hit me that it was what I should do. I did not know anyone in the military and the Vietnam War was not that long past. I went to the recruiter and took my sister, just as a companion. I was scheduled to leave for basic training pretty quickly and my sister decided to join on a delayed enlistment. The recruiter got two for one! She went about seven months later. She ended up working at NORAD. Computers were just coming out so I asked the recruiter for a job that had the most computers in it and we decided that it was Accounting and Finance. I was in the Air Force for 3 years, 2 months and 8 days. I met my husband in basic training and we got married in tech school after dating for 20 days (yes, it was one of those stories). We were very happy. I separated early to have children, which ended up being five, and my husband eventually retired from the Air Force.

When I left the Air Force I did not have a college degree but I did have a job skill. Eventually, I did attend college and received a bachelor's degree and the GI Bill paid for it. So I now have a college degree because of my service to my country. When applying for government jobs I got extra points for being a Veteran which helped me have an edge over other applicants. I had job experience to put on my resume and every job I later had was built upon that experience that I received in the Air Force. This culminated in my job as an auditor for the State of Utah Department of Workforce Services when I retired.

Overall, I have considered my decision to join the military as 'one' of the best things I ever did in my life. It has provided many positive benefits in my life. As a result of my military service I learned a lot about doing hard things and following through on expectations.

We have had the opportunity to see Lily's dedication to following through in action. Lily is currently a Tai Chi instructor serving the Beaver County area. For those who aren't aware, Tai Chi is just one of the evidence based, low impact exercise programs that we are proud to bring to the Five County area. The class is for beginners and teaches the basic elements of Tai Chi, helping with coordination, balance, flexibility, and more! Lily does a great job of managing and teaching her class, as well as serving her community.

On this Veterans Day, we invite you to join us in thanking Lily and all Veterans for their service! If you or someone you know would like to learn more about the available services and resources for Veterans or Tai Chi and other evidence based programs, please contact us at 435-673-3548 or send us a message using the green "Contact Us" button on the corner of your screen.

Kristina Raner has been with the AAA-Five County since 2015. She holds a master's degree in Public Administration and is a certified Dementia Specialist. Kristina serves as the lead for AAA-Five County's Benefits Enrollment Center, Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, and Media Outreach. Additionally, she is the Program Director for our AmeriCorps Education Award Program.

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