Beyond the Uniform: Tech. Sgt. Dykstra

Upon entering military service in 2001, “service before self” grew from an idea introduced as one of the Air Force core values, into a recurring theme in my daily life.  […]

Upon entering military service in 2001, “service before self” grew from an idea introduced as one of the Air Force core values, into a recurring theme in my daily life.  Through commitment to the United States and the state of Wisconsin, I have been afforded many opportunities for personal and professional growth with a direct impact on the communities I’ve served.

Military service has been instrumental in my education.  Throughout my journey I have utilized the Montgomery, Wisconsin, and Post 9/11 GI Bills, as well as the National Guard Tuition Reimbursement and “Kicker” programs.  Collectively these benefits have helped me attain an associate degree in Fire Science, a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in Fire and Emergency Response Management, and a B.S. in Leadership and Organizational Studies, and an executive master’s degree in Emergency and Disaster Management from Georgetown University.

The 115th Fighter Wing leadership has proven flexible throughout my career and educational endeavors.  For three years I worked at Eglin Air Force Base as a federal civilian and was allowed to maintain my Air National Guard commitment by making up time every other month.  During graduate studies, leadership granted permission to miss drill periods to attend week-long intensive studies throughout the U.S. and abroad.  These examples are only a few of the instances the 115th FW has made it possible to be a citizen Airman.

The 115th FW understands the synergistic value of civilian employment and how it adds diversity and strength to our capabilities.  My training as a fire protection craftsman in the 115th FW has proven valuable and assisted in my positions as a federal firefighter, and as the director of Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services for Portage County, the deputy coordinator of the Northeast Wis. Incident Management Team, and current employment with the city of Madison Fire Department.

While I live by the idea of “service before self”, I have received far more in return.  As an aggregate, the 115th FW delivers an immeasurable impact on the state and local communities.  I am honored to serve with the 115th FW and if possible, intend to extend my commitment well past twenty years.