Story by A1C Breanna Klemm on 08/01/2019I joined the Air Force right out of high school, August 13, 2002. Shortly after arriving at my first duty station, Sheppard AFB, Texas, my wingman and I found ourselves engaged in friendly competition for Airman Below the Zone (BTZ), which she won. It was a fun competition at the time, little did I know that was only the beginning.
During July 2006, while several months pregnant and engaged in my first permanent change of station (PCS) to the USAF Academy, Colo., I began studying for the E5 Weighted Airman Promotion System (WAPS) test. Motivated to do well, I studied hard, and despite many challenges I earned my next stripe. Once the announcement of line number came out, I learned I would be one of the last to pin on Staff Sgt. On July 1, 2007, I walked in into my clinic as a brand new Staff Sgt., excited that I made the cut.
I knew making Tech. Sgt. as an Aerospace Medical Technician took an average of five to six years. As time passed, I was determined to make Tech. Sgt. and applied the same study habits as I did for previous WAPS tests. Unfortunately, I wasn't so lucky this time. In 2011, I PCS'd to San Antonio, Texas, where I worked in a joint service environment at both Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Camp Bullis, Texas. During this adventure I studied, but was not as focused on making rank as I was on mission success and personal educational goals.
In July 2015, I arrived at Altus AFB knowing that my High Year Tenure (HYT) was not far out. I focused on completing my Course 15 Professional Military Education (PME) as well as studying for the WAPS test. I had high expectations that the extra time I put in studying would prove beneficial. Once again, I did not receive the answer I had wanted when the Tech. Sgt. list was announced. However, I did receive excellent news when my HYT was offered to be extend by two years due to the shortage of personnel in my career field. It was an offer I gladly accepted.
The next milestone for me was the completion of my Course 14 PME. Funny enough, the day I took my final test was the day Course 14/15 PME would no longer be required. With all the extra studying, experience and knowledge I thought, "Surely this was my year", but I still didn't make the list.
Throughout 2017 and 2018, I worked out a strategy to place more emphasis on my Enlisted Performance Report (EPR) than I had in the past. With new changes to the EPR systems and WAPS calculations, I was becoming increasingly discouraged. I calculated how the point increase from a "promote" to "must promote" would help my cause.
This was the moment I recognized how suffering from test anxiety had interfered with my scoring during the WAPS test. It was difficult feeling like every time I walked into the testing room I would forget all I learned no matter how long or hard I had studied. I had to make TSgt. The pressure was building since my new August 2019 HYT was quickly approaching and there would be no more extensions for me.
I closely followed the HYT changes that Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, Kaleth Wright implemented that year and I attribute his leadership and policy changes to saving my career; I was comforted knowing I would be able to reach retirement eligibility even if I could not make Tech. Sgt. Knowing I haven't dedicated seventeen years of my life to the military and then have to be forced to separate three years shy of retirement was a relief.
For 12 years I had the same feeling when I walked out of the test. However, 2019 was much different for me. My circumstances lined up just right when I went to test. I didn't realize it until much later, but I was completely relaxed and confident rather than stressed and nervous. Then the five-month wait for results began.
On Friday, 12 July 2019, I went about my day as normal until about 4:15 p.m. As I arrived back to the MDG after a meeting, I was greeted by my leadership as well as my entire Flight; I was extremely nervous about walking through the door. My Squadron Commander approached me with a smile and figured it had to be good news. "Congratulations, on making Technical Sergeant," he said. This is truly a dream come true and it still doesn't feel real.
The true message I would like to say is this: I never believed I would make Tech. Sgt., especially knowing I typically had such high test anxiety. I felt that unless I could get that desperately sought after promotion statement, it wasn't ever going to happen for me. Now, not only did I finally make Tech. Sgt. without it, but I'm number 3 out of 9,467 promotes Air Force wide! Never underestimate your own abilities and stop second guessing or changing your answers; you got this.