I decided to stay in Dayton after my retirement from the Air Force mainly because it felt like home.
My Air Force career was different from most. I was moved eight different times over the course of 20 years along with three deployments squeezed in there — I was never anywhere longer than three years. My first time stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB was from 2009 through 2012. I made tons of friends grew to really like the area, its central location and access to pretty much anywhere in the country.
Once it was time to move on, I had no idea that I would ever return. However, after three years away, I came back in 2015. Knowing I had four years remaining until retirement, I hoped this would be my last stop. I’d been around the world throughout my career and knew the things I needed to take into consideration. Be it comfort, cost of living, ability to find employment — a combination of all those and more factored into my decision to stay.
As the retirement date grew closer, the Air Force aided greatly in the transition to civilian life. Having not been in the civilian sector for 20 years, the Air Force Transition Assistance Program was a huge help in preparing me for what came next. There, I was able to learn how to write a resume, practice interviewing techniques and become familiar setting up profiles on websites such as LinkedIn. They also made sure that I was familiar with organizations like Montgomery County Veterans Services and other local resources.
Once I’d made the decision to stay in Dayton, I took the knowledge and skills that I had learned in the Air Force and I hit the job market. I made copies of my resume and attended a job fair at the Nutter Center. I hadn’t locked myself into a career path and I quickly realized that there are a lot more opportunities available in this area than I had thought. Fortunately, my Air Force background made me a good fit to go into government contracting. This helped my transition go smoothly, allowing me to still work with the Air Force as a contractor. While not exactly the same, I still had some familiarity with what my working environment would be.
Making the decision to stay in Dayton is what was best for me. I’ve now lived in Dayton for nine years. Outside of my hometown of Philadelphia, I haven’t lived anywhere longer. While I grew up in Philadelphia, the experiences I’ve had and the relationships I’ve built in Dayton has definitely become my second hometown.
Benjamin Bentley retired in 2019 from the United States Air Force. He currently works as a contractor at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and is a Dayton Sportcial contributor.
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