Sí, puedo

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michael Bowman
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

The Air Force family is made up of people from every walk of life. Regardless of race, gender, creed, and origin, once the oath of enlistment is taken, individuals are inducted into the Air Force way of life. For Airman 1st Class Branden Valle, the journey of becoming an Airman was one of personal growth.

Valle enlisted in 2022, beginning his Air Force journey like all others at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas for Basic Military Training. For eight and a half weeks, Valle learned the fundamentals of what it takes to be an Airman.

“Basic was hard for me,” Valle said with a sheepish smile. “It was not easy, but I was able to learn a lot and grow as a person.”

BMT was the first step for Valle as he moved on to technical training at Goodfellow Air Force Base. Goodfellow AFB maintains oversight for the training of all Air Force manned intelligence, all signals intelligence and firefighting across the Department of Defense, other intelligence specialties for each sister service, and international allies.

Valle’s technical training journey found him in the 315th Training Squadron, where he began studying as an operations intelligence specialist.

“The first time around, the training was very hard,” said Valle. “The subject is very tough, but my biggest challenge was having to speak English all of the time.”

For the native Spanish speaker, the toughest challenge came not from the new concepts, but from the difficulty of learning the new subject matter in a language he was not yet confident speaking.

“When I came to the 315th, I had the thought that I would get to train and be reclassed,” said Valle. “My Military Training Leaders helped me to get into the English class so I could keep my job.”

When Valle initially took his English Language Proficiency test, he did not meet the minimum to proceed to the rest of his technical training. In order to increase his familiarity with English, Valle spent 17 weeks training at Lackland, working hard to sharpen his language skills. On his second journey through the base, Valle was enrolled in the Defense Language Institute English Language Center. There are fifteen different courses offered at DLIELC. Courses range from nine weeks to more than 52 weeks or longer. These courses are intended for students to improve their proficiency and obtain attain minimum standards required for Air Force service.

“This language course has helped me so much,” Valle said, “When I got here, I could not speak English, but I can now.”

Since graduating from DLIELC, Valle has returned to Goodfellow to pursue his Air Force career. His new language skills have allowed him to maintain a high grade in his classes as he studies the fundamentals of Air Force intelligence.

“His improvement is incredible to see, and I know that we as wingmen are all proud of him,” said Airman Elsa Pariente, 315th TRS student. “English is my third language, and I remember how difficult it was when I first started learning it in the United States.”

Pariente and Valle often spend time discussing their classwork in both Spanish and English as Valle continues to strive for higher levels of comfortability and comprehension with his second language.

“I did not want to let my language barrier stop me from serving,” said Valle. "The Air Force is a great experience to become more professional and serve this country. I want everyone to know that even if you don’t speak English, or whatever trouble you may have, the Air Force has tools to help you reach success.”