Slaying her personal giants

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Denise Jenson
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- As military members, we all have different stories as to why or how we came about joining the service, each with its own set of struggles and triumphs.

Ellsworth is giving four Airmen the opportunity to share their unique stories during a segment called “Slaying Your Personal Giants” as part of its semi-annual Wingman Day focusing on the mental and spiritual pillars of resiliency.

Tech. Sgt. Shannon Olson, the noncommissioned officer in charge of chapel operations assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing and a speaker at the Slaying Your Personal Giants symposium, joined the Air Force in February of 2007 with the intent of taking the job that would get her out of her comfort zone and in to basic military training the quickest - ammunitions.

“I trusted that it would be good for me to try something new,” Olson said. “Growing up, I was raised in a strict Christian home and walked a straight path of virtue and morals. Although I was proud that I graduated high school with a GPA of 4.25 and received full scholarships to several universities, I wanted to be a part of something much bigger than myself; I wanted to join the United States Air Force.”

Shortly after arriving at her first duty station in 2007, she realized she didn’t quite fit in with her fellow Airmen. Being in an environment different than the one she grew up in meant experiencing things she was not used to, sometimes for the worst.

“I was tired of being left out and feeling challenged to compromise myself and who I really was as a means to ‘fit in,’” Olson said.

With adversity before her, Olson decided to train into a career field that better aligned with her values, and became a chaplain’s assistant. Olson said it was a difficult process from her first day on the job to the day of her retraining, but her faith and husband brought her through it all, and she felt more emboldened and courageous to seek out hope for a new tomorrow.

“In the time since then, I feel that God has truly given affirmation that all of this was for a purpose,” Olson said. “I experienced my first deployment, grew closer yet in faith and celebrated accolades.  The following year, I made technical sergeant on my first try and was astounded at the blessing and opportunity I had early in my career.”

For Airmen who may be going through the same struggles Olson went through prior to crosstraining, she urges Airmen to do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing.

“Just recently, I was recognized as the 2015 NCO Chaplain Assistant of The Year for the Air Force,” Olson said. “All awards and promotions aside, I would not change a thing. It is the passion I have to care for others and stand for what is right that drives me onward.”

Olson will be sharing her full story, along with three other Airmen, during the symposium at the Deployment Center during Wingman Day Sept. 1. Contact your unit training manager for a full list of events taking place.