By Contributing Editor Blair Drake
Retired Air Force Col. Rebecca Seeger’s life has been shaped by the core values of the Air Force. Her father, a retired Air Force major, instilled in her at a young age the values of integrity, service, and excellence.
“I took [those values] on during my service,” said Seeger, who joined the Air Force in 1980 after earning a degree in math from Northern Arizona University (NAU). She went on to serve more than 30 years as an electrical engineer and program manager, including joint tours with U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Space Command.
“I enjoyed every single assignment because I was surrounded by really good people,” Seeger said.
After retiring in 2011, she used the GI bill to get a degree in photography. She also started volunteering locally. She established women’s basketball and soccer endowments at NAU, served as the Coconino County representative on the Arizona Governor’s Military Affairs Commission, served on the Coconino County Joint Land Use Study Policy Committee, and was a member of the Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery Foundation Board. She also volunteers as an election poll worker and with local veteran’s activities and groups, including the Grand Canyon Chapter of MOAA. She has served as newsletter editor, on the chapter’s board of directors, and as first vice president and will start her tenure as chapter president in January.
“You’ve got to give back,” she said. “I have the opportunity to help others, so I’m going to do that.”
In addition to her Air Force values, Seeger sees “the extreme value of education.” In December, she earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from NAU. Her goal is to champion a college-in-prison initiative in Arizona to provide degrees to those who are incarcerated.
“In Arizona, if you want to get a degree while incarcerated, you need to do a correspondence course,” she explained. “I want to bring instructors into prisons.”
Her motivation stems from the experience of two incarcerated relatives. “Neither were in for violent crimes,” she said, but the effects of incarceration continued to impact their lives. “One died from alcohol poisoning, and one died from suicide,” she said.
Seeger’s hope is to help others who are incarcerated find a positive path forward.
“Getting a degree in prison is a way to help [those who are incarcerated] build agency and confidence. The recidivism rates [for those who earn a degree] are between 2% and 20%.”
This past fall, Seeger was recognized for her many contributions, as a 2022 inductee into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame Society. Honorees are veterans who have honorably served their country and who also serve and inspire their fellow citizens with deeds and accomplishments beyond their military service.
“It was kind of surreal … to be recognized for what you love to do,” Seeger said of her induction.
She plans to continue her many efforts to give back. “I want to be better today than yesterday and make the world better today than yesterday,” she said.
Blair Drake is a contributing editor for MOAA and lives in Souderton, Pa. She previously served on the editorial team of Military Officer magazine for nine years.