Gail Colvin

I think patriotism is about a commitment and a responsibility to make the country better no matter where you sit.

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Gail Colvin | Director of Staff

U.S. Air Force Academy

Veteran | Colonel | 30 years in the U.S. Air force

An Interview With Gail Colvin

What did you do in the service?

While on active duty, I served as Chief of Joint Doctrine for the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. I led the U.S. delegation to NATO’s subcommittee on joint war fighting interoperability and led efforts across national and international partners. I commanded a mission support squadron, a services squadron, and a mission support group of nearly 1,800 people at Holloman AFB, NM. My final assignment was at the Air Force Academy as a Vice Commandant.

What is your perspective of patriotism?

I think patriotism is about a commitment and a responsibility to make the country better no matter where you sit. I think it can take many forms. It can be public service or the mere act of voting. It can be working in your local community not only in an official capacity but in an unofficial capacity to solve local issues to elevate and identify them.
There are just many ways to think and demonstrate patriotism because it means different things to different people. It was in the 30 years of military service defending the nation upholding the constitution, I deeply and proudly believe in those ideals and know what this country stands for. But I also believe in the equitable application of all those principles to all citizens no matter their entity and their right to demonstrate their patriotism.

What was the biggest reason that led you to join the Military?

My brother was the catalyst for me joining the Airforce. He was an Air Force Academy grad in 1975 and worked as a recruiter for the Academy. As well in 1975, President Ford signed an executive order that allowed women to enter the service Academy. Those two things came together, and I thought it was a great way to complete my degree. I entered the Academy in 1976 in the first co-ed class. That was an interesting class because we had five African-American women entering that class.

What was the biggest lesson you learned in the Military?

My biggest lesson would be the opportunity to develop myself more, become more self-aware, gaining self-discipline. The Military is a series of growth opportunities and new situations, depending on where your station—learning new cultures and new ways of thinking. Experiencing different people’s attitudes and perspectives and at its core was how I became more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Has the Military made you a better person?

 Yes, for all the people I’ve met along the way, all the lifelong relationships and friendships. 

What was your experience transitioning from active duty to civilian life? 

It is an exciting phase of life when you end something, especially after doing it for so long. There’s an uncomfortableness there. But again, back to being comfortable with uncomfortable. When my time came, I had a plan to retire, take time off and not work until an opportunity presented itself. So when the opportunity to return to my alma mater came about, I was honored to accept the position. I knew I’d be doing some wonderful work in an area that I love and passionate about. Working with and for cadets at the Air force academy and their mission. It has been a journey, I’m not completely at retirement yet, but my transition was good.

What should a person consider before they decide to serve their country?

Joining any profession, you have to do your homework to see if it’s a good fit for you. There’s a lot of structure in the military that requires uniformity on a lot of levels. Also, I do think that the positives out way all those things. It’s a great start for younger people in terms of opportunity and personal growth. terms of opportunity and personal growth.

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