News>Through Airmen's Eyes: Airman becomes 'pin up' girl for charity
Staff Sgt. Destini English, 99th Medical Operations Squadron mental health technician, poses as her alter-ego, Jaynee Lou Jeepers, during a photo shoot at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 17, 2012. English is involved with charity organizations, such as Pin-Ups for Vets and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jason W. Edwards)
Staff Sgt. Destini English, 99th Medical Operations Squadron mental health technician, poses during a photo shoot at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 17, 2012. Hailing from Fort Hood, Texas, English has been in the Air Force for five and a half years and is heavily involved in charities such as Pin-Ups for Vets and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. (U.S. Air Force photos/Master Sgt. Jason W. Edwards)
by Senior Airman Jack Sanders
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
8/29/2012 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)
Military members often help their local communities with volunteer work, but one Nellis Air Force Base Airman is aiding her favorite charities as an old-fashioned pin-up model.
Staff Sgt. Destini English, 99th Medical Operation Squadron mental health flight technician, is using her off-duty time to take place in 1930s, 40s and 50s-style photography and contests to raise funds for charities.
The style, which became known as pin-up, is commonly found in historical military aircraft nose art, tattoo designs and clothing lines.
"I've always loved that classic look," English said. "Everything about it just seemed like good old fashion fun to me."
English, an Army brat, joined the Air Force in 2006 as an Air Force Honor Guard member.
"My mom told me, 'No, I'm telling you what right now. If you don't join the Air Force there's going to be problems,'" English said, laughing at the thought.
English said her joy for the service and volunteering started with the Air Force Honor Guard. Performing her duties in the honor guard led her to participate in the Tragedy Assistance Program, an non-profit organization dedicated to assisting youths who've lost family members to war.
"I've worked with TAPs for six years, and I'm a mentor for the program," English said. "I've mentored a child for the past six years who lost her dad in a vehicle accident in 2005."
English's passion for volunteering and helping veteran's affairs groups continued through the years, but recently she has combined her love for 30s, 40s, and 50s fashion and charity work.
"The Hollywood Razzle Dazzle competition in California was the first I ever competed," English said.
The competition required contestants to appear in 40s or 50s style fashion and answer several questions about what they've done to help the veteran and military community.
"I was really, really nervous and the night before the competition I was like, 'I want to back out. I really want to back out,'" English said. "My husband told me 'No, you're going to do this,' so I did.
"I got on stage and I'm standing there with all these girls who were so cute and so fun and so bubbly and I loved it. For the first time in my life I actually was fitting in with a group of girls and I had never done that before."
English won the competition and was named Miss Glamour Doll 2012. The competition raised close to $50,000 for Veterans Affairs hospitals.
Helping the VA hospitals came naturally to English who works as a Mental Health technician.
"I absolutely love working in Mental Health," English said. "I love working with these patients."
English plans to continue working in the field of psychology for some time, even after she retires from the Air Force.
As for her charitable fashion competitions, English has no plans to slow down.
"I've already become part of a charity organization that gives haircuts to children who can't afford them for back to school, and they supply school supplies to them if they can't afford it." English said.
English said working with many charities is fun, but she always needs to be cautious with what she does.
"I always make sure that for any photo shoot, I'm keeping in mind my TAPs mentee," she said. "I always ask myself, 'If she saw this on the Internet, would she be embarrassed?'"
The bottom line, English said, is that Airmen can think "outside the box" as they look for ways to offer help and support to their community.
9/11/2012 2:18:05 PM ET @Joe...still took out the slashes but I understand. My apologies for any perceived insult.
A Lot Of People, A Lot Of Places
9/10/2012 12:24:38 PM ET @AlotOfPeople That was supposed to be 58 not 58 I think this comment system takes out foward slashes 5 8ths of an inch guages
9/7/2012 1:30:38 PM ET Don't forget that 'tats' have been used to assist in identifying remains...God forbid that it becomes necessary...but they can serve alternative purposes besides body decoration. Personally I don't care them...but I do admire the craftmanship of the artisans
9/7/2012 1:26:34 PM ET I will not go as far as Charles and say tattoos should be forbidden but I am young and anti-tattoo. I see all the posts that state get with the times. How about you all be different and actually don't get any if everyone has them now. @Joe...58 gauges seems like an addiction instead of expressing one's self. She might need help.
A Lot of People, A Lot of Places
9/6/2012 1:57:36 AM ET Im glad so many people disagree with this Charles Barry guy. How childish mush an adult be to go so far as forbidding military members from getting tattoos. We're in a proffession that deals death and destruction to those who try to harm us and you want to cry about tattoo
9/5/2012 7:38:05 PM ET I love the classic pin-up look and am glad SSgt English can use her personal hobby and tastes to benefit charity. I hope to see more of this trend to helping the needy.As far as Charles Barry is concerned Sir you are entitled to your opinion albeit an unpopular one. I have seven tattoos and am proud of every one of them. My opinion is that we sacrifice enough individuality in the name of freedom and professionalism. As long as our tattoos are in line with the regulations I don't see an issue with them.Gone are the days when having tattoos was a taboo that employers shunned. I would ask Mr. Barry if he was ever in the service and if so what did he think about his buddies getting inked Tattoos are a military tradition very long-standing. I am curious as to why he thinks they should be forbidden.
9/5/2012 5:50:52 PM ET My wife is a nurse with 7 tatoos and 58 guages she isn't in the military but she holds a level of proffesionalism that I see very rarely in our service. It's the person not the image that gets the job done. And the discrimination that the military shows towards body art is pretty childish. I know the military is ALLLLL about image and not work but I guarantee you that just because a person has tatoos does not mean they will put forth less effort than anyone else nor will they present less of a proffesional image because of it. Get with the times this is a new generation and the military has alot more pressing issues than tatoos.
9/5/2012 11:00:22 AM ET Charles Barry is the reason all my tattoos are in places I can easily cover. No one knows that I have tattoos unless they see me in a swimsuit and even THAT is rare. As long as her tattoos are in line with regulations there is nothing unprofessional about tattoos. SSgt English - I wish they had that program here at my base cause I'd gladly volunteer
The Queen, MoHo
9/4/2012 7:17:58 PM ET Charles Barry the first westerners to get tattoos were military members.Quit being a wet blanket
PMedic, Pearl Harbor
9/2/2012 3:19:20 AM ET SSgt English Thank you for your service and willingness to help others
David, Oslo Norway
8/31/2012 12:54:54 PM ET @ Charles you are going to be hard pressed to find somebody now days who is willing to commit to military service that doesn't have a tatoo. Times change. And looking at Sgt English's photo in uniform I don't see any. Good for her for making a positive impact in her community.
Jason, JB Langley Eustis
8/31/2012 11:21:53 AM ET Really tatoos should be forbidden Service members give up many rights of individuality. Tatoos don't make them usany less productive or professional. I guess you would rate them lower on an EPR because of their off duty appearance. I have three and am proud of all of them.
8/31/2012 10:38:03 AM ET Charles Barry- Don't be so fuddy-duddy. There is no reason why service members cannot get tattoos.
8/30/2012 11:24:25 AM ET I'm glad she is volunteering but tatoos on a service member should be forbidden.
Charles Barry, Cedar Creek TX
8/30/2012 8:31:23 AM ET You should look up Help Heros Heal... it is something like you're doing now and I think you'd really like it Good for you lady this is an amazing way to help others.