Recently, Lieutenant Colonel Dedra Tentis, Inspector General in the Minnesota Air National Guard, and Loras College professor presented the American flag she flew on several Aeromedical Evacuation Combat Missions in Iraq to Loras College President Jim Collins. The flag was flown in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom in honor of Loras College. Tentis also flew several combat air refueling and surveillance/target attack missions in Afghanistan.
Tentis strongly believes in the integration of her military training in the classroom. Tentis states, “With almost 23 years of military service and my 4th
deployment on the horizon, I like to share the common threads I see between the core values of the Air Force, the Catholic mission, and Loras’ identity and dispositions. I strongly believe in using the teachings of the Catholic Bishops as the primary lens in my approach to tying military and civilian worlds together for a well-rounded experience for my students, which I believe will set them up to be more successful in the field.” According to Tentis, “Students need to see how terrorism has changed the way criminal justice and national security are linked at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. I also believe students need to understand the importance of diplomacy and how our country’s health is directly connected to the prosperity of the rest of the world. I know first-hand from my experiences that combat power alone cannot fight today’s conflicts.”
When asked what she likes most about the military, Tentis stated “I really love the people. They tend to be selfless and very worldly, so I feel I’m constantly learning. I also love my work. I was up at Camp Ripley in Minnesota training with the Army last month. We met with soldiers struggling with some pretty serious issues. We conducted several focus groups with younger soldiers on their career development, as well as how they perceive their senior leadership. I took a couple of flights up and down the Mississippi River in a Blackhawk helicopter, and I worked on an article for publication. Although the days are very long, every day is different. I feel like I make a difference. It’s definitely an honor and privilege to serve.”
With GI Bill benefits enabling more returning veterans to go to college, Tentis hopes to see more of these students on campus. Tentis shares, “Many of these military veterans returning to college often bring a culturally rich background, a solid work ethic, and sharp teamwork skills to the classroom, which will only add to the Loras campus community. I often find that returning veterans feel they don’t know where they fit in, and the Loras experience offers the camaraderie and support most veterans need.”