JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – It’s not unusual to see several family members joining the Air Force at the same time. This is true of three siblings from Yucaipa, California, who recently graduated basic military training within weeks of one another.
Three different paths led down the same road for Autum, Noah, and Jez Vandenabeele. While struggling with the reality of finding a job and paying their bills at the start of the pandemic, the siblings decided it was time to move in another direction.
Noah always knew if he ever decided to join the military the Air Force was his only consideration. After talking to a former service member and coworker, he spoke with his family and enlisted a short time later.
"Job certainty and financial stability were factors in my decision to enlist in the Air Force," said Noah, the first of three siblings to join. "If I ever decided to enlist, I knew the Air Force was my branch of choice."
Throughout their childhood, Autum, 23, Noah, 22, and Jez, 20, relocated several times due to their father's profession. However, they chose California as home. Through tough times and adversity their bond as siblings remained strong.
"I had my bachelor's degree in anthropology and was pursuing my master's degree in emergency medicine and public health," Autum said. "I even tried to become a firefighter but felt like I couldn't catch a break. Noah was the voice of reason in my decision to enlist."
Once Autum was on board, Jez just followed suit.
"Honestly, my wheels were just spinning and I thought it would be a good escape from the repetitive day-to-day norms," Jez said. "Our bond has always been strong and I just knew it was the right thing to do."
All three siblings graduated from BMT and became Airmen within three weeks of each other. Noah is an Airman and Jez and Autum are both Airmen 1st Class.
Noah and Jez are attending technical school at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi – Noah as a Cyber Transport System Specialist and Jez as a Weather Technician. Autum is closer to home while attending the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, to become a Cryptologic Language Analyst.
"For siblings that are thinking about enlisting together, I would suggest looking into the Buddy System program," Jez said. "I would have been able to communicate and see my sister's progress."
The Air Force has a limited Buddy Program. Applicants who successfully enlist under this program will be together for BMT. If applicants sign up for the same job, there’s a higher likelihood they will attend technical school together and might be stationed together.
In a statement released April 10, the Air Force acknowledged the bond of siblings that stated, “They're the ones who encourage us to be our best while still keeping us humble. They're our biggest motivators and our biggest competition. Our strongest ally and our first best friend.”
As in childhood, the Vandenabeeles’ bond remains strong as they head in different directions to continue their new careers.
For more information on the Buddy System, visit https://www.airforce.com/frequently-asked-questions/military-training.