In a previous life James Schulze was a pastor. He made a good living. In serving God and his flock, Schulze’s family lived comfortably.
But that was a year and a half ago. A falling out with his church found him relying on the skills he’d developed in the building trade.
However, with the economy as sluggish as it is, the construction jobs weren’t as abundant as they needed to be to support a wife and three kids. So he made a decision.
He joined the service. The Air Force.
In May the 33-year-old shipped out to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas to complete basic training.
It’s been his lifelong dream to be in the service, his wife Karina, 31, said.
James’ 13-year-old son Derek says he is proud of his father for joining the military and fulfilling a lifelong ambition of service to his country.
Both want to see James graduate in July. But as a stay-at-home mom responsible for schooling her children and running the day-to-day operations of a household on a recruit’s salary, Karina has had to make some tough decisions.
She told her husband that only she would be flying out to Texas to watch him graduate. Money is just too tight, bills have to be paid, Karina says she told her husband.
Disappointed that he wouldn’t be seeing his son, James said he understood. Nonetheless he would pray on it.
Karina and Derek did some soul searching of their own. Karina decided she’d dip into the money set aside for paying bills so she could buy a ticket for their son to see James graduate.
When you pay $250 for a round trip ticket and you have limited resources, that’s a big hit. She’ll live with the consequences.
Derek, for his part, decided he would work to pay for his passage. He had his mom post an ad on Facebook telling people he’d be willing to do any odd jobs they may have for him.
So far, only his uncle has stepped forward, paying his nephew to clean a “jungle” of a backyard.
“I don’t mind. I like hard work. I’m really open to any kind of work. Hard work is easy for me to do,” Derek said.
Derek’s glad he’ll be able to surprise his dad when he shows up to watch him graduate next month. But at the same time, he wants to help his mom defray some of the expenses, maybe even raise a little extra so his 5-year-old sister can go.
Anyone with work for a 13- year-old should call Derek’s mom at (619) 623-0640. Hard work is his specialty.