Administrative Law Judge enlists in AF Reserve to get the “military experience”

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt Cierra Presentado
  • 459 ARW/PA

In today’s military, many people join for different reasons to include education benefits, retirement, medical insurance etc. One Airman with a very successful law career made the decision to join the Air Force Reserve to get the  military experience she always wanted .

Senior Airman Ivory Lai is an Administrative Law Judge for the State of New York. She is a traditional reservist with the 459th Security Forces Squadron. For years, Lai knew she wanted to be in the military, but life would postpone her dreams.

“I always knew I wanted to be in the military, but my family was against it,” Lai said. “They thought the military meant going to war, and they were fearful for my safety. They wanted me to stay put, so in an effort to please them, that’s what I did.”

Lai focused on her education and career goals. She graduated college and went on to law school to pursue a career as an attorney. While the thought of joining the Air Force Reserve was still in her head, she decided the best decision would be to finish one career before starting another.

“Throughout law school, I was still very interested in joining the military,” she said. “I reached out to a recruiter to start getting the information I would need to be a reservist.”

Lai didn’t know much about the reserve but she knew she wanted to be a cop.

“I wanted something tactical and something that would keep me outdoors, because with my law job, I’m usually staring at a computer monitor for most of the time,” she said. “After talking with my recruiter, there were positions open at Andrews and Dover Air Force Base.”

 “I weighed my options” she said. “Andrews seemed like a better fit for me.

After completing law school and becoming a licensed attorney then an Administrative Law Judge, Lai finally enlisted in the Air Force Reserve and was off to basic training to fulfill a lifelong goal.

“When the day finally came I couldn’t believe it, this was something I waited my whole life for,” she said. “Despite the success I’ve had in my legal career, I was excited to start my journey as a Security Forces Airmen in the Reserve.”

Prior to leaving, Lai informed her parents of her decision to join the military. She shares how proud they were of her and gave her love, support and well wishes.

“When graduation day came, I remember feeling overcome with joy and disbelief,” she said. “Even though it took longer than I planned, I still did it, I set a goal and I made it happen.”

Lai went on to tech school where she earned her security forces badge and beret; and finally made it to the 459th where she was officially a security forces member.

“I was thrilled to be at the wing; within my first month we were tasked for a unit annual training in Quantico, Virginia, where I got to do all the tactical training I was hoping to do,” she said.

When asked why she decided to enlist and not go the officer route, she replied that there were no open officer positions at the time and that instead of choosing a different career field, she’d rather start from the ground up in security forces.

“Even though Amn Lai has been with our unit for short period, she shows excitement, an eagerness to learn, and has selflessly stepped up right out the gate for a deployment,” said Major Thomas Lowe, 459th SFS Commander. “You can’t quantify an individual’s motivation for service but rather appreciate that they choose to sacrifice comfortability for personal growth. I personally enjoy the fact that we have a caliber of individuals in this unit such as her, willing to give their time and experience to better themselves. We’re ecstatic to have her and look forward to seeing her growth within the career field.”

Lai plans to stay in the Reserve for as long as she can.

“The wing is great and the people in my squadron are amazing, I know I made the right decision,” she said. “This is the experience I’ve always wanted; it’s my dream and I’m living it.”