Guardsman ‘always ready’ for deployment

Among the long list of things for college students to worry about, deployment is not usually one of them. But for students like Kevin Coffman, it’s always lingering in the back of his mind.
Coffman, 21, joined the Air Force National Guard following his high school graduation in 2015.
“The benefits were a huge part of why I wanted to join the Air Force National Guard,” he said. “The college benefits have been great. I’m able to go to school tuition-paid, and I get paid every month.”
Coffman said the Air Force National Guard enables him to attend school without having to worry about working a minimum wage job.
“Essentially, I don’t have to worry about working a minimum wage job while I’m in school like most other students do,” he said. “It has provided me with just about everything I need to focus on school and my future. All I have to do is be ready to go if they need me.”
Most people think war when they hear deployment; however, Coffman is talking about a different type. When natural disasters hit Puerto Rico last year, Coffman was deployed to the area to help with damage.
“In 2017, they came to me right after the two hurricanes hit Puerto Rico and asked if I wanted to go help so of course I said yes and went,” he said. “I was there for two months. At the time, there wasn’t as much to do as normal. But we’d move stuff by helicopter from one side of the island to the other or collect donations to take to the schools. The scenarios are always different, the main goal is just to help out anyway we can.”
Aside from drill one weekend a month and two weeks of work during the summer, Coffman said staying deployment ready is the biggest task.
“I have to stay deployment ready at all times,” he said. “So there are certain things I’m required to do to keep that status. For example, I have to go to the dentist and doctor yearly and get them to fill out a form for the Air Force letting them know I’m in good health. I also have to pass a PT exam and all my classes.”
With no inclination to when deployment will come, or how long it will last, school will sometimes be put on pause for guardsmen.
“When I do get deployed, I have to put my school on hold,” he said. “There’s a form that I have to give to the school to let them know where I’m going. I also let my professors know what’s going on, and I can’t always tell them how long I’ll be gone because I don’t even know but they’re always helpful.”
In the beginning, Coffman didn’t know what to expect when he returned to school after being deployed several months.
“My professors here made it possible for me to just pick up right where I left off before leaving,” he said. “They made it easy for me to jump back into the swing of things.”
Coffman has been able to travel different places through the Air Force National Guard, and though he’s not sure where he’ll get to go next, he’s ready.

Lainey Boone

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