An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Taking a Break from the Family Business

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Deaven Randolph
  • Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central)

Air Force Financial Management is the family business in the Randolph household. Discussion around the Thanksgiving dinner table often includes talk of funding floors, financial systems and changes to the Financial management career field over the last 30 years. 

However, my career path has been anything but traditional. I joined the military in 2006, but my total federal service only reflects 10 full years. Up until a couple of years ago, I had never been to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. I did not get a proper paycheck for my first 11 months in service, and I have never received official Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery scores. 

I am Tech. Sgt. Deaven Randolph, and I want to share a story about my non-traditional career path. I hope you will come away inspired by the possibilities the Air Force affords us. 

My dad, retired Senior Master Sgt. Barton Randolph, joined the Air Force a few years after I was born, just in time to be sent to the Middle East for Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. He was a radio operator during the Gulf War but transitioned to the FM career field shortly thereafter. As a result, I grew up hearing about the daily travails and triumphs of the FM profession. When I was very young, I remember asking him if he "bought fighter planes" because "that would be pretty cool." Inspired by his service, I decided in middle school that I wanted to go to the United States Air Force Academy. But I wanted to fly planes not manage budgets. 

Somehow, I succeeded and was admitted into the Class of 2010. However, after finding out that I would never fly, I left three years into the program to take care of a family instead. The Air Force did not like that. They had invested too much time and money in me, and I had already passed my commitment date. They gave me a choice: pay back the money or serve two years as an enlisted member. I chose to enlist, and here I am two reenlistments later. 

During this time, my dad was a master sergeant at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and, knowing what I needed to hear, he tricked me into becoming a 6F by simply saying that the work would "suit me." Today, I am glad he did. After showing up for technical school without any uniforms or clue what I had signed up for, I went to Pope Field, N.C. for my first assignment, followed by Yokota Air Base, Japan, and Cannon AFB, N.M. During that time, my dad made senior master sergeant, moved to Vandenberg AFB, Calif., retired and became a civil servant working on the same base. I called upon him regularly with difficult questions an was always pleased on rare occasions when I could answer one for him. 

I worked with incredible leadership and subordinates at Cannon AFB, but unfortunately--and for several reasons--I found myself getting burnt out. The primary reason was that I wanted to finish my bachelor's degree, but there was no end in sight. Every time I moved, I had to change schools and start a new program. I was demoralized: going to school at night, working long hours during the day and trying to take care of my family in between. I needed stability and time to take a full course-load. 

After a few years searching for a solution, I heard about the Career Intermission Program. It was an initiative that allowed Airmen up to three sabbatical years to pursue personal goals. They even move you to the location of your choice and let you keep some military benefits while out in exchange for a service commitment upon return. I was selected for the program and happily moved out to California to be near my family. 

Those three years were a major blessing. I finished my degree and worked as a general schedule resource advisor in the same office as my dad. Upon returning to active duty, I came to Shaw AFB, S.C., while my dad moved back to Germany. Meanwhile, my brother, 2nd Lt. Noah Randolph, just graduated from Reserve Officers' Training Corps this summer. Dad also convinced him to join FM, so our clan is slowly taking over the career field! Keep an eye out for him at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, this fall. 

By the end of the three years, I was refreshed, had gleaned a massive amount of FM knowledge from my dad and felt accomplished having completed my bachelor's degree. I know there are many others across the profession that may fee as burnt out as I did, so that is why I anted to share the opportunity the Air Force afforded me. Plus, they just reduced the service commitment for the program, so now is an excellent time to apply if interested. 

The sheer number of programs available for military members and civilians to personalize their service is staggering. The Air Force provides options letting you work at civilian companies, go to school full-time, change career fields, commission, transfer to the National Guard/reserves, compete on a professional sports team, attend culinary school, transfer to another service entirely or simply take a break from active duty. Visit the myPers website for more information on these programs. 

My time in the Air force has taught me that there is no 'cookie-cutter' career--mine sure is not! As leaders, we should have knowledge of both the programs available and the goals of our people, so we can help get them to where they need to be. 

(Article originally published in the July 2022 edition of the SAF/FM online newsletter)