Pokemon Trainers as People is a column in which Chalkey interviews well respected pokemon trainers in the community, but with one rule: they may talk about anything but the Pokemon VGC. Read about your favorite trainers as they talk about other aspects of their lives, and learn something new!
This week, we’re talking to Danny Hemchand, known in the gaming community by his handle IAmJabberWocky. Danny got 3rd place at the APEX tournament this year, top 8 in the April International Challenge, and 5th place in the 2014 Massachusetts Regional. He currently sits at 184 Championship Points, well within the top 128 players in North America. Danny is going to be talking to us today about his life as part of the Air Force, representing one of the few pokemon trainers currently in active duty!
Chalkey Horenstein: So first question, as a clarity question: I understand you’re in active duty, but what specifically do you do?
Danny Hemchand: Well I suppose I should start by saying the branch of military that I am in. I am in the Air Force. My job title is Air Transportation. I basically do logistical work. I ship anything from food, to blood, to explosives downrange for our deployed troops.
CH: What first got you interested in the military? And was there was a reason you chose the Air Force in particular?
DH: Well, I got to a point in my life where I wanted to be more independent and pay for my college. I decided to not take the student loan route and signed up for the military. I was between the Marines and the Air Force for a while but I decided the Air Force because it seemed to line up with my goals more.
My goal was to earn my bachelors degree in accounting while serving active duty. I plan on saving my G.I. bill to pay for my graduate degree. The G.I. bill is basically a benefit given to veterans that offers 36-48 months of school coverage as well as money for other expenses. There’s more than one that a veteran can choose from so I will not get too into it, but it is basically money paid to me by the government to cover the costs of my tuition, books, and living expenses while I go to school full time. Most active duty members have tuition assistance available to them, and that’s how I pay for my tuition currently, as well as some federal aid.
CH: So what does a normal day working for the Air Force look like to you?
DH: Well it’s probably not what everyone would expect. I do not wake up at dawn to go do PT [physical training], although some squadrons do. My squadron is a 24 hr operation and my hours where I am working usually run from about 2pm-11pm or 12am. I usually wake up around 9-10am, then I go to the gym or do some homework and afterward go to work. Considering my occupation, I still feel like I have a fairly normal life. I can come and go from the base as I please, and I get to pursue goals and hobbies that I want to. School has always been my priority.
CH: What is something you think is a big misconception about the Air Force? When friends hear you talk about it, what is something they will always assume that isn’t necessarily the way things are?
DH: I think the biggest thing when people find out that I am military is that they assume that I am shooting guns and blowing things up all day. It is certainly not like that, especially stateside.
CH: Carrying that thought, what is the most dangerous thing you do in the Air Force?
DH: Personally, I’ve dealt with a lot of explosives. Mainly dealing with packing and loading them. I have not been deployed yet so I have not gotten to get into too much danger otherwise.
CH: When did you start working in the Air Force? You mentioned before you did this for school and independence – looking back now, would you do things any differently if you could do it all over again?
DH: I joined Feb 26th 2013. As for if I would do things different, it is a double edged sword personally. Do I appreciate the opportunity to be independent and pay my way through school? Yes, but on the other side of it, there are times when work and school clash and the military forces you to put them before your schooling. I suppose it could be like that anywhere though if you are going to school and working full time. I just have less freedom to make that choice.
I would have also liked to travel a little more, but that would have distracted me from earning my degree so its probably best that they sent me to Jersey .
CH: When you say “I have less freedom to make that choice,” what do you mean exactly?
DH: Your supervision decides whether or not you can access your T.A. [tuition assistance]for the semester. You have to apply for it, and they approve it based on your workload, whether you are deploying, and other factors. For example, my workload last month was pretty hefty and my SSgt [Staff Sergeant] did not want to approve my TA for the semester. I had to plead and cut my classes down for him to approve it. This usually is not typical though; this is the first time I have been given an issue regarding my TA.
CH: So we’ve covered the benefits, the day to day, and the costs of the job. Let’s talk about some fun stuff: do you have any particularly fun stories about working in the Air Force or the military as a whole?
DH: Probably one of my fondest memories was when I got out of basic training and my mom came down to visit me. I was very “Air Force” during that time and I went hard in basic training. I graduated with honors (which honestly means nothing when you get out of training and into the operational side of the Air Force), I got perfect physical and test score, earned a marksman award on M16. My mom saw me, hugged me and I spent every minute I could with her that weekend. We got to explore San Antonio, eat some great Mexican food. I went from super military to just Danny again it felt like, except with a shaved head.
Shooting is really fun too, I never got to shoot prior to the military. I really enjoy it. I find it relaxing. It is just you and the target and everything else kinda just fades to the background.
CH: In your opinion, does anything with your job overlap with or affect the way you play pokemon?
DH: Military wise, you always have to use risk management. They refer to it as ORM (operational risk management) but I feel as if I have always had those skills.
I don’t know if its my job as much as it is with my affinity for strategy. I was always great at strategy games and I seem to plan and predict well. I played chess competitively during my high school years and was very successful at it. I went undefeated my senior year in our games against other schools.
CH: We’re out of time. Is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?
DH: The military has overall been a great experience for me. I feel like I lead a normal life. I work my job, and then after I am free to do what I want to do. I’ve gotten to see and do some cool things and visit some great places. (I’ve been to Texas, Virgina, and Georgia through the military) I suppose the best thing about the military is the ability to fulfill my goals while keeping myself out of debt from school loans and serving my country. I feel like my job has a lot of honor and I value the idea that I am helping others and serving my country.