Richard Jimenez is all about providing for his Philadelphia family.
After years on the road in the transportation industry, he started his own trucking company in 2019.
“I wanted to pursue the American dream, financial freedom and take care of my family,” Jimenez said.
A few months later, the COVID-19 crisis hit, causing Jimenez to lose his business almost overnight.
“I woke up one morning and I started making my phone calls as usual and there was no one answering or people weren’t booking any loads,” he said.
Struggling to make ends meet, the Jimenez family started looking at other options, ultimately finding survival through service with his wife Jenna and teenage son Amarion all enlisting in the United States Air Force together.
“Even though this is the worst pandemic our country has seen, we figured it out together,” Jimenez said. “This is how we are going to survive it.”
While the Jimenez family story is unique, at 37 years old, Richard joins a growing group of older Americans looking to enlist in the U.S. military.
“There’s not a lot of employment that can meet a lot of the needs of and wants that people like the military can,” said USAF Tech. Sgt. Jeffry Stamm, who helped the Jimenez family with their recruiting process.
With the U.S. Air Force raising its maximum age limit from 28 to 39 years old in 2015, Stamm says there’s been an increase of older Americans enlisting each year since.
“Guaranteed contracts, medical and dental benefits, educational benefits, I think those are the ones people are seeking right now,” he said.
Those were all things Stamm was seeking himself during America’s last recession.
“That’s the whole reason that I joined in 2008,” he said. “Looking back 13 years ago, I was looking to start a family myself.”
For the Jimenez family, enlisting in the USAF has provided career options they say are pandemic proof.
“I wanted to put my family and I in a position where this couldn’t happen again,” Jimenez said about looking for a career to support his family.
In a few weeks, Richard and Amarion leave for basic training shortly after Jenna finishes tech school.
“The support that the Air Force is going to give us, we won’t have to worry about anything like that again, meaning not knowing where to go or who we’re going to turn to,” Jimenez said.
A family getting a fresh start after finding survival through service.