Top 3 Life Lessons I learned as US Air Force Captain Kemmet
My three year commission as a Captain in the Air Force was filled with intensity and personal growth. As if being a new dentist was not enough I dove head first into the responsibility of being a captain in the US Air Force during Desert Storm. There is a sense of high alert and preparing during war time no matter where the base is located.
During those years, I learned many lessons that have helped carry me through life.
Respect and Discipline
Officer Training was what an enlisted person sometimes refers to as “knife and fork school”. It’s pretty straightforward: learn how to wear the uniform, salute, march, respect those with superior rank, sit in a gas chamber, crawl under barbed wire, learn how to triage in a time of medical need, etc. Two weeks of training and then I traveled north to my base station, SAC (Strategic Air Command) Air Force Base in Grand Forks , North Dakota. Most people did not want to be stationed in Grand Forks but I was fine with it – it was close to home – Minnesota.
The military was a place for dentists to learn, grow and move on from the military or a place for dentists to receive the same paycheck no matter what they did or how hard they worked. I was raised to believe that the harder you worked and the more dedicated you were the greater the reward.
Eager to learn the business aspects of dentistry, I rapidly honed my skills as a dentist. I treated mostly enlisted wives and children who were badly in need of help. Some of the people I served entered the military and had never seen a dentist. I enjoyed helping these people. Empowering the enlisted people in their new positions as assistants at our clinic staffed with 13 dentists and about 30 enlisted people also warmed my heart. Captain K was my nickname given to me by my first dental assistant. He liked to listen to rap and arrived many mornings hung over from the night before. We complained and grew up together in our own unique ways.
Kindness Is A Mission
I was one of thirteen dentists and the only female with the lowest rank among them. For me it was a man’s world and I was hungry for professional female interaction. Learning how to treat people with kindness, respect and tolerance became a mission for me while serving in the Air Force. The phrase: rank has its privileges was clearly obvious and it was something I observed constantly. I am thankful to have learned how to serve those in need from some great role models during my time in the military. Respect can come from what is worn on your sleeve combined with how you relate to others.
My Top Three Life Lessons Learned as Captain Kemmet
- After living with the rank and rigidity of the military I felt it important to treat everyone the same with the same level of respect regardless of titles.
- Your ability to thrive in the world is deeply connected to the actions you take on a daily basis.
- Structure and systems are important for a common mission.
Serving my country means a great deal to me. I am thankful to have grown as a person in a position with a responsibility to serve: my country, US citizens, co-workers, and my patients.
Lori Ann Kemmet, DDS