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Tina Caston: A Journey of Service and Sacrifice

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Tina Caston's story is one of unwavering dedication, sacrifice and a profound commitment to serving her country and her fellow veterans. As we celebrate Veterans Day, we shine a spotlight on the remarkable journey of this retired U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, whose path to service was paved with familial influence, a sense of pride and a desire to create opportunities for leadership.

Born in Chicago, Tina's journey to the military was not one she initially envisioned. She began her career as a teacher, imparting knowledge to young minds. However, the call to serve her country echoed loudly within her heart, influenced by the legacy of family members who had taken the oath before her.

Her motivation was also rooted in the profound sense of pride and patriotism that beats at the heart of all who serve.

“My path to military service started with the Air Force Air National Guard when my then-husband was also serving in the Air Force,” she said. “Needing extra money, we decided to embark on this journey together, marking the beginning of what would really become a commitment to my country and my desire to serve.”

Years passed, and as her life took unexpected turns, Tina decided to transition to the U.S. Navy, drawn by the prospect of extensive leadership opportunities. She recognized the underrepresentation of Black officers in the Navy and felt compelled to become a part of the solution. Her journey in the Navy began with a tour of oceanic research at a remote location in Alaska.

“I loved my time at Naval Air Facility Adak in Alaska and our mission, which was new and exciting,” she said. “It was quite the introduction to the Navy and all the different paths my career would take me .’”

Over her 25 years of military service, Tina's assignments took her across diverse roles, each playing a vital part in the Navy's operations. Her career spanned roles in the Naval Recruiting Command and the Bureau of Naval Personnel among others, shaping her into a formidable and capable leader.

In 2002, Tina retired from the Navy with the rank of lieutenant commander, marking the end of a remarkable chapter in her life. Her decision to settle in Jacksonville was motivated by her deep-rooted connection with her three sisters, two of whom had also served in the Navy. The bonds forged in military service ran deep in her family.

Tina's journey didn't end with her retirement; it simply took on a new form. Since 2016, she has dedicated her time and energy to volunteering with AARP Florida, focusing on supporting veterans in their career planning and job search endeavors. Her role as a volunteer with Disabled Veterans of America allowed her to assist fellow veterans in navigating the complexities of benefits, making a tangible impact in their lives.

For Tina, volunteering with AARP holds a special place in her heart.

"In the military, we take care of our own and our community," she said. “My new role as an AARP volunteer represents just another facet of my commitment to public service and being a good neighbor. So, it is a continuation of the core values instilled throughout my military career.”

As a former Navy recruiter, Tina now serves as a “recruiter” for AARP, drawing on her wealth of experience and the same sense of duty that once led her to the U.S. Navy. Her commitment to serving veterans and the broader community remains as resolute as ever.

On this Veterans Day, we salute Tina and the countless veterans like her who have dedicated their lives to the service of our nation. Stay tuned as we share more stories from those who have served our country.

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