Jessica A. Robles

Served in the Air Force
from 1999 – 2022

When were you drafted or when did you enlist?

I enlisted in the Air Force in 1999.


Why did you choose your branch of service?

I chose the Air Force because I went to the Air and Water Show on Lake Michigan in Chicago, IL and saw the recruiter and all the interesting equipment they had, it was all intriguing to me, so I went to talk to the recruiter a few days later.


What do you remember about that day?

I remember walking into the recruiting center and seeing the other service branches offices and how many people were in each of the offices and they were all trying to get me to go to their service. I got to the Air Force Recruiter’s office, and he was just sitting in his chair, alone in his office, unbothered.


Can you describe a happy moment from your time in the service?

A happy moment that I will always remember from my time in the service was when I was able to purchase my first home. I never dreamt of owning a home of my own because I just never felt it was within my reach. Being in the military gave me access to resources I would not have otherwise been able to take advantage of. I will never forget that.


Did your military experience inform the way you think about war or the military in general?

Before I joined the military, I believed every service member fought on the frontlines. After I went on my first deployment, I realized there are far more support functions on deployments than there are frontline fighters. My role as a logistician was vital to ensuring the service members who were fighting on the front lines had all the supplies and equipment they needed to be as prepared as they could be for the fight.


Who was your best friend in the military during your time at war? Do you still keep in touch with them today?

I did not have a BEST friend during my time at war, but I did have a mentor who was a huge influence on how I grew as a leader. I still keep in touch with her and consider her and her family to be my extended family. I am who I am as a leader because of her.


What were the first few months out of the service like?

So far it has been amazing. I took two months off to decompress. It is something my mentors advised me to do as we operated at a fast pace and under stressful situations. Being able to take time off to just relax, spend time with my family and re-group to prepare myself for a second career was the best decision I could have ever made.


Do you have advice for those transitioning out of the military?

Don’t feel pressured to have everything figured out at your time of separation. Sometimes the job you get after you leave the service is not the job you stay at for the long haul. Give it time, do research, and learn about different careers. This is your opportunity to do something completely different or something you are passionate about.


If you hadn’t gone into the service, what do you imagine your career life would have been? Did you explore a different career after service?

I entered the service when I was 18 and I didn’t even consider any other career opportunities.


Please add any additional stories or meaningful memories that you’d like to share.

Some of the most important and cherished relationships in my life are people I met along my journey in the service. My husband and I met 22 years ago at our first duty station. We dated, but parted ways…in 2019 we re-connected and brought our blended family together and are living happily in New Jersey. My best friend Erica has been my rock for the past 10 years. We met while we were stationed together at Vandenberg AFB, CA. These treasured relationships would never have come to be if it wasn’t for the military.