“All I can really say is that [serving in the military] is what you make it. If you go in with a positive mindset, then you will have a great experience, meet people who turn into your family and create lasting friendships,” says Adora Clark, a soon-to-be veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) Hiring Our Heroes Fellow.
Clark brought her positivity and experience to the NNSS in May as one of two fellows.
She was exposed to the military at a young age and watched as her stepdad spent his career in the U.S. Marines. When it came time for Clark to determine what she would do after high school, she knew she would enlist in the Armed Forces. She had hopes of attending college but financially, it was not an option. She knew the military would allow her to have an impactful and rewarding career.
Following high school, Clark immediately enlisted. She sought the unknown, choosing not to follow in her stepdad’s footsteps of being a Marine. Six years in the Air Force left Clark with a lifetime’s worth of comradery and memories.
“The hardest part of retiring is leaving your friends who turned into family,” she said. “The relationships you make while in the military are something impossible to explain to civilians. You will never understand what it means to have someone’s back through and through while deployed. And that is what I am going to miss.”
Clark’s military experience as a staff sergeant in security directly relates to the line of work she performed in her fellowship working for the NNSS Safeguards and Security department in the Badge Office.
Jeremy Cunningham, also an NNSS Hiring Our Heroes Fellow, retires from the U.S. Air Force Oct. 1 after spending 20 years and 21 days serving our country.
For Cunningham, there was no doubt in his mind whether he should enlist or not. He comes from a military family with relatives in the Army, Marines and Navy. However, he was the first in his family to join the Air Force.
“I knew I didn’t want to go on to college – it wasn’t the path for me,” Cunningham said. “I was done with school and counting down the days until I turned 18, so I could go to basic training. Once I was at my first base, the first thing the military did – put me in college.”
Cunningham attended technical school while based at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He was trained in Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and spent the entirety of his career in the EOD field.
During Cunningham’s 20 years of military service, he was based in Texas, Florida, Idaho and Nevada. His deployments took him to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. He also was part of high-level details for U.S. presidents, including visits to France with Pres. George W. Bush, Nigeria and Canada with Pres. Barack Obama and, his final detail, Italy with Pres. Joe Biden.
“I am going to miss the people,” Cunningham said. “The military truly is a family. When you’re deployed and in a difficult situation, your unit turns into more than just colleagues, which is why I always say, the military is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. If you don’t know it going in, you are definitely going to understand it once you’re there.”
Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative to connect veterans, service members and military spouses with various employment opportunities. The 12-week program aims to create a movement in communities across America where veterans and military families return to the civilian workforce smoothly.