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Shaping a life through military service

Financial Resource Specialist, Jacqueline Bowman, poses with her son Pfc. Kayjhon Everson in 2019.By Lauren Finnegan, Public Affairs Specialist

It was 1996 when Natural Resources Conservation Service Financial Resource Specialist, Jacqueline Bowman gave birth to her first child at the age of 16. Raised by a single mom struggling to make ends meet, Bowman knew she wanted more for herself and her newborn son. She was looking for a way to propel herself out of her impoverished San Diego neighborhood when the military walked into her life and changed it for the better.

“I knew there was a better life for me, and when I was down on my luck, two Army recruiters just happened to come to school for a job fair. After talking with them, I knew the military was for me.”

Bowman enlisted as a petroleum supply specialist and after graduating from basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, she was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. For three years, she learned how to fuel everything from tankers to jets, and in addition to the skills she learned, Bowman gained a few things that have proven to be even more important in her career.

“The military was able to give me stability, patience, and support. But it also allowed me to work with a diverse group of people- every race, every ethnicity, every religion. You form this comradery with people from all walks of life, which helped shape me as a better American all around,” she said.

After leaving the service in 2001 (right before 9/11), Bowman struggled to find a job where she could utilize her newfound skills until a family member told her about military preference for federal workers. Soon after posting her resume, Bowman found herself starting a career as a federal civilian.  

“What’s shaped my entire life today was the military. This was an opportunity to get out of my neighborhood and provide for my family, and I can’t even begin to tell you where I would be without it,” she said. 

While Bowman left the service over 20 years ago, she not only has an immense feeling of pride when she thinks of her time in service but a continued connection through the service of her two sons – including that newborn who drove her to strive for something more.

But above all else, Bowman wants all Americans to take at least a moment on November 11th to think about what our veterans and service members sacrifice for freedom.

“The major thing is they don’t have to do it… These people put their lives and their families on the line to make sure that we have constitutional rights in America. They have sacrificed their lives for freedom, and it’s important that we celebrate [them].”