Story Submitted by Nathalia Candelario

In January 2020, I made the brave decision of pursuing a career with the United States Air Force. I left for basic military training early in January when the civilian world was still very much “normal”. As you may know, while at training we cannot keep or use any cell phones. The only way of communication in regards to what it is like beyond the gates of the base was writing to our loved ones or our instructor telling us important information. Towards the end of January, I had received a letter from my friends and family explaining this concern of a new virus that came up in China, today known as COVID-19, and that it has been spreading fast in China. At the time, training did not change because it had not hit the U.S. quite yet. However, later in February, we were told that they had quarantined a good amount of people from cruise ships on our base. Because the virus still was not big, we were able to graduate as normal and see our families and walk around the city, but we were the last graduating class able to have a ceremony, see our families, and walk off base. After our class, the other classes were not so lucky due to the tremendous spike in cases here. During my job training, I had experienced many limitations, such as having to walk with friends with maintaining social distance, wearing masks at all time, quarantining incoming classes from basic training, having to eat pre-made meals instead of the dining facility, unable to complete fitness tests, not being able to leave base and expediting my graduating date 2 weeks early. All in all, training for all branches have taken a huge turn compared to when I went through earlier in the year and will probably continue to adapt to current situations.