ATTLEBORO — When Julie Hall graduated from Massasoit Community College with an associate’s degree, she wondered what she would do next.

Should she get a job? Go to college for a four-year degree?

She had some friends who were in the military at the time and they suggested she consider that, too.

When she looked into it, she discovered that because of its rank structure, the military was one of the few places where women got equal pay to men.

“It was the most equitable place for a woman,” she said.

So in January of 1978, she enlisted in the Air Force, performing tasks along the lines of a social worker, doing psychological and neurological testing.

Hall, 60, said she originally thought she would stay a short time in the service but changed her mind early on and made it a 30-year career.

At one point, the Air Force sent her back to school for a bachelor’s degree and officer training. She came back a second lieutenant and gradually rose to the rank of colonel.

With the higher rank came more responsibility. She said she eventually became the administrator of a system of four hospitals.

Her service brought her to far-flung places, from Oklahoma to South Korea.

All the while she was raising her nephew by herself.

State Rep. Betty Poirier, R-North Attleboro, said Hall has many qualities that make her a good candidate in her special election race against Democrat Jim Hawkins.

Hall’s volunteer work and her time as a city councilor are two of them, Poirier said, but her service in the Air Force stands out.

“I think she has many traits that I like. I think that she became a colonel tells you what kind of individual she is. Let’s face it, that’s not easy,” Poirier said.

Jim Hand may be reached at 508-236-0399 or jhand@thesunchronicle.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TSCpolitics.

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