For those who end up working in their college town, there are usually just a few miles difference between learning skills in the classroom and applying them to real-world situations. For Joey Couch, there are 5,300 miles.
Since his deployment in Ali Al Salem, the site of a U.S. Air Force base in Kuwait, Couch has put his associate’s and bachelor’s degrees to use in Transportation Management Operations, processing all incoming and outgoing military deliveries, from the smallest shipments of nuts and bolts to cargo as big as an aircraft engine.
With less than a month of his deployment to go at the time of his interview, Couch says, “I’ve been ready [to come back], but I have a mission while we’re here, and I’ve learned so much over here as a customs agent for our base.”
His most rewarding—and challenging—experience has been working with the local people. Not only has the language barrier posed a problem but also a huge economic gap means Couch has constantly had to adapt to the diverse needs and backgrounds of the Kuwaiti people.
“What’s best is to just try to understand them and piece things together the best we can,” Couch says. “Whenever you are attempting to work with them, they’ll work with you, 100 percent.”
Patience and persistence, two critical components of the communication skills he has been developing since college, have paid off in the Air Force Reserves.
“It was life learning,” he says of his time at State Fair. “The ability to figure out the answer in college is crucial and requires a lot of patience. It is easy to give up if one cannot find the answer. Just like in the military, not knowing the answer will not help you out. It takes time and research to investigate and figure out the answer.”
The educational foundation Crouch built at SFCC led him to Park University, where he obtained the bachelor’s degree in management that prepared him for the work he has done in Kuwait, as prepared as he could be anyway.
“This being my first deployment, it was quite a culture shock,” Couch says. “There’s only so much you can prepare for without actually being there and seeing for yourself.”
For example, it was 110 degrees Fahrenheit when he arrived in Kuwait, and that was considered the winter season.
While Couch is grateful for the challenging but vital work he has done overseas, he says he is most excited to return to his wife and daughter and the life they are building together in Missouri.
“They’re waiting for me to come home,” he says. “I’m very excited to see them.”
Story by Jackson Ingram
Summer 2017 Communications Intern
Marketing and Communications