San Antonio, officially recognized as “Military City USA,” is home to three bases with nearly 296,000 military members – almost 20 percent of our city’s population. For Memorial Day, we asked several local military members – a reservist and two veterans – about their experience in the military and civilians’ misconceptions; how it shaped their education, career, and family lives; and how they spend the holiday honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Jeree Milam, 36, is a family nurse practitioner who commissioned into the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 2016 to become a flight nurse. She is originally from El Paso and has a 10-year-old son.
Rivard Report: Why did you join the military?
Jeree Milam: I wanted to serve my country and care for our military members. I am grateful and humbled by the sacrifices past and current military members have made so we can live under the blanket of freedom they have provided us. From a young age I felt a sense of obligation and duty to my country and fellow Americans. It has always been a dream and goal of mine to join the military, but the timing was never right. An opportunity presented itself in 2016 and I seized the chance to make my dream and goal come true.
RR: Did you have family who served in the military before you?
JM: One of my uncles served in the Army during Vietnam. Two of my cousins served in the Navy and another cousin served in the Army.
RR: Would you support your child enlisting in the military?
JM: I would support my son if he decided to join the military. He has been so supportive and understanding of my choice to join the military, so I would do the same for him.
RR: Would you support a mandatory draft?
JM: We are an all-volunteer force and have great Reserve Citizen Airmen serving throughout the world in various capacities. I support the volunteer force structure currently in place.
RR: How much attention do you pay to the politics in Washington, D.C.?
JM: It is imperative that I stay informed of current events going on not only in D.C. but also in my community and around the world. As Reserve Citizen Airmen, civilian and military policies uniquely affect us as we live in both worlds. We could be called to duty anywhere in the world in a moment’s notice.
RR: How would you describe the rapport between civilian and military populations here?
JM: I have lived in San Antonio for 14 years, and they call it “Military City USA” for a reason. The community embraces, welcomes, and genuinely thanks military members for their service. The support from the community concerning the 433rd Airlift Wing (Alamo Wing) is outstanding. People have come up to me to shake my hand and thank me for my service when I am in uniform, a truly humbling experience.
RR: How does that rapport in other cities or countries compare to that of San Antonio?
JM: I have been to other cities and the military and civilian communities have all been very welcoming.
RR: What is the best part about being in the military?
JM: The camaraderie you develop with members of your unit and other military members you meet along the way. It is a unique brother- and sisterhood. You will meet military members from different branches (or the same branch) while you are deployed, or on temporary duty, or maybe you work at the same unit and they become your military family. You may not talk, message, or see them everyday, or maybe you do, but if you need them they are there for you and your family.
RR: What is the hardest part about being in the military?
JM: Being away from family. I don’t know many people who like to be separated from their family. However, military members are aware that this one of many sacrifices we have to make to serve our country.
RR: What do you wish civilians knew about the military?
JM: I want them to know that as much as they thank us for our service we are just as thankful for the opportunity to serve in the military. It is an honor and privilege to wear this uniform and represent the United States of America.
RR: What is the biggest misconception civilians have about the military?
JM: I have heard the term “solider” used interchangeably among the various military branches. In the Air Force, we are called Airmen, but people routinely refer to us as soldiers.
RR: How will you spend your Memorial Day?
JM: I spend Memorial Day at Alamo City Crossfit performing “Murph,” a workout honoring Navy Seal Lt. Michael P. Murphy who was killed June 28, 2005 in Afghanistan. After working out I spend time with family and friends.