From the courtroom to the classroom

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Vanessa Saks
  • Headquarters Air Force Junior ROTC

What to do after retirement from the Air Force is a question that plagues many Airmen as they approach the end of their career. For one lieutenant colonel, an unsolicited email from the Air Force’s Personnel Center answered that question for her, and changed her life forever.

Lt. Col. Trinh Warner, an Air Force judge advocate for 17 years, was getting close to retirement and in search of a meaningful job.

“As I was praying for guidance during the time just before terminal leave, an email came to me from Air Force Junior ROTC Headquarters (through AFPC) that asked, ‘Looking for a rewarding opportunity after retirement?’” she said.

Soon after receiving the message, Warner applied for a position as an Air Force Junior ROTC senior aerospace science instructor, or SASI.

“I knew the private practice of law, while fun at times, would not give the kind of internal rewards that making a difference in children’s lives would,” Warner said.

It didn’t take very long after applying for the job offers to start coming in.

“Because I was very diligent in my efforts to apply, get interviewed and get approved by the Air Force, I was able to get job interviews by three schools very quickly. I had offers from all three schools, and it was a difficult decision to make,” she said.

The retired judge advocate accepted a position with Cypress Springs High School in Texas this past summer.

“I knew I would like working with students, but my love for the Junior ROTC mission has surpassed my expectations,” she said. “Every day, cadets impress me with their initiative, dedication and drive. My expectation was there would be difficult days, but the cadets make it worth it for me.”

Airmen can submit an application to become an Air Force Junior ROTC instructor when they are within nine months of retirement and have approved retirement orders.

“Air Force Junior ROTC is an amazing opportunity for Airmen to continue to serve after retirement while staying connected to the Air Force family,” said David Richerson, Air Force Junior ROTC chief of instructor management. “We have nearly 900 officer and over 1,000 enlisted positions worldwide. We are always taking new instructor applications and our vacancy list is updated at least weekly.”

For an application to be approved, an Airman must be retired less than five years, have a bachelor’s degree and hold a retired enlisted grade of technical sergeant to chief master sergeant or officer grade of major to colonel.

Air Force Junior ROTC provides citizenship training and an aerospace science program for high school students. The objectives are to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship and life skills; promote community service; instill a sense responsibility; and develop character, leadership and self-discipline through education and instruction in air and space fundamentals and the Air Force’s core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence In All We Do.

For more information on Air Force Junior ROTC and a list of instructor opportunities, visit and