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Travel pay technician goes the extra mile

By Dona Fair | 12 FTW/PA | July 30, 2014

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — Meet Airman 1st Class David Ellison, a travel pay technician with the 502nd Comptroller Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. He is responsible for in-processing active duty Air Force members, including basic military trainees, technical training students, medical accessions, and all other active duty Air Force service members completing their permanent change of station travel to and from JBSA.

Mr. Roy Lozano, from the International Military Student Office, worked closely with Ellison and had this to say. "Ellison aided immensely in paying International military Students in a timely manner since he arrived in finance. He took the initiative to assure IMSs were paid when final vouchers were changed due to weather or if a student was struggling in a course. He always went above and beyond by making himself available to assist, whenever needed, during or after duty hours."

Prior to his current duty, Ellison worked in the International Pay section, where he was responsible for the travel and monthly allowance payments for international military students at JBSA from the Defense Language Institute English Language Center, Inter-American Air Forces Academy, 12th Flying Training Wing and seven other Air Education Training Command bases. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minnesota and is currently working on his master's degree in business administration at Texas A & M - Commerce.

Here's what David has to say about himself and his job.

What is the best part of working in finance? The best part about working in finance is ensuring that our customers receive payment in a timely and accurate manner. I've seen firsthand how important our job is--many of my customers, especially the IMS, come to JBSA with very little means and rely on our office so that they can focus their energies on their primary mission (e.g., learning English, flying aircraft) rather than their personal finances. If I don't do my job correctly, then the mission that I support won't be accomplished effectively either.

Why did you choose to serve in the military? I chose to serve in the military to jump-start my career. In college, I didn't know what I wanted to do for work. I had a tremendous respect for service members, and was drawn to the military's emphasis on physical fitness. My uncle and cousin recommended the air Force, and I agreed that it was the best fit for me.

Time in the military: I officially joined the Air Force on 8 January 2013. After my eight weeks of basic training, I attended the financial management three-level course at Keesler AFB, Mississippi before I returned to JBSA-Lackland for my first permanent assignment.

Time at JBSA-Lackland: I began my current assignment a JBSA-Lackland in June 2013. For three months, I worked at Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance Agency.

Greatest accomplishment: My greatest accomplishment is completing two full marathons. I credit my father and my college cross country coach for instilling my passion of long distance running. Nothing has challenged me the way that those races did. I would not have ran them if not for the motivation that I received from my dad and coach.

Goals you want to achieve or meet while at JBSA-Lackland: While assigned here, my goals include earning the rank of senior airman below-the-zone and a commission through the Air force Medical Service Corps as a health services administrator.

Hobbies: My hobbies include long distance running, ice hockey and discovering new music.

Your best habit: My best habit is staying active. I engage in some form of cardiovascular exercise nearly every day as it helps me destress and provides energy to excel in work and school.

Favorite quote: "Pick your battles." My mom says this phrase to me whenever I feel overwhelmed or when I get worked up about small issues. I think of it often on and off duty as it helps to put everything in perspective before I make important decisions.

Favorite movie: The Mighty Ducks Trilogy. These movies were my favorite as a kid, and I love re-watching them now. They're about hockey, set and filmed in Minnesota, and are hilarious! They feature so many quotable lines but I think the best one has to be, "Ducks fly together."

Who is your favorite mentor and what did you learn from him/her? I've met plenty of special people, but my favorite mentor is my mom. She has an incredible spirit and has overcome more adversity than I will ever experience. I learned many lessons from her including respect, compassion, and patience; qualities that I depend on every day.

If you could spend one hour with any person, who would it be and why? It would be Zach Parise. He's a hockey player on the Minnesota Wild, and my favorite because he isn't the biggest or most talented player, but he has worked incredibly hard and has taken advantage of his strengths to become one of the top forwards in the world. He even captained the American team in this year's winter Olympics. I would ask him about his training habits, and what actions he takes as leader to inspire other players.