John Carlson – ‘The Air Force taught me about resilience’

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2023

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Demopolis Police Department School Resource Officer John Carlson is often known as “LuLu’s handler,” the K-9 officer who works alongside the four-year old Belgian Malinois who is his trusted partner. Carlson, who is a bit soft-spoken, can usually be found at Demopolis Middle School making sure students get to and from the school building safely.

But Carlson is more than just a School Resource Officer (SRO). He is also an Air Force veteran who has chosen to continue dedicating his skills and services to helping others. Retired Master Sergeant Carlson joined the Air Force in 1997 as a member of the Air National Guard, where he served for 24 years before retiring from his duties as a Vehicle Operations Superintendent in September 2021.

For Carlson, who comes from a military family, joining the military seemed like continuing a family legacy..

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“It was kind of like a family tradition. My grandfather, great-grandfather and so forth, all served at one point. We’re all military,” said Carlson.

He originally joined the Air Force, and was in the service career field which ranged from cooking for and feeding the troops, to burials. Carlson said he only stayed in that field for about two years before moving on to something else.

“I had a buddy who was joining my unit, and he and I wanted to work together, so we went into Transportation. There I was like the worker guy, and then I worked my way up to being the superintendent,” said Carlson. “But throughout my career, I had opportunities to work in Aircraft Maintenance as a First Sergeant and also in Security Forces as a First Sergeant.”

Carlson said that his years in the Air Force helped shape him into who he is today because of the valuable skills it taught him. He also believes it has made him a stronger person.

I would say that the military has definitely instilled a lot of discipline in me. As far as time management skills, learning how to do a lot of work with a little bit of time and little resources,” said Carlson. “It’s made me stronger because it taught me a lot about resilience. It taught me how to take bad situations and turn them around into something good.”

Many Veterans have to deal with misconceptions about what they are like as people. Veterans are sometimes stereotyped all have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or thought to be inherently violent people, but for Carlson, those misconceptions are far from the truth.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about veterans. There are some veterans that are sick, but you’ll find that in every walk of life, not just the military. I think some people view PTSD as more of a military illness and not as a society illness,” said Carlson. “But as far as veterans go, the majority of the people that I’ve been around are very caring, hardworking people.”

When asked what advice he would give to someone who is considering joining the military, Carlson encourages people to do so as it will provide them with many different life skills and different ways of thinking about things.

“I would recommend that they join and excel in as much as they can in their career. Do something that will be useful for them on the outside. Whether it be medical, cooking, aerospace, or computer jobs. It really gives you a lot of tools to succeed in life,” said Carlson.