Rising Above Challenges

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Bristol Evasco
  • 133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As the military continues to experience the most difficult recruiting environment seen in years, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jesse Todd and the team of production recruiters assigned to the 133rd Airlift Wing focused on their main priority:  the people. This focus and wing-wide efforts have helped recruit new members and retain our current service members. It has enabled the Wing to reach the 100% end-strength goal by Sept. 30, 2023.

The recruiting process is a 24/7 job, and finding someone interested in doing the military part-time, as a traditional member, adds to its complexity. Traditional guard members face unique challenges – from missing kids’ sports on drill weekends, to balancing a civilian job or school – so their recruiters do too. Creating a true understanding of what a National Guard commitment is and means to an individual and their family is critical to successful integration.

“We are taking the time to really get to know individuals, why they want to join, what they are looking for or hoping to get, and answering any concerns they might have, shared Todd. “To see [recruits] ultimately working towards their goals, finding themselves a little bit more, and realizing our organization offers more than just college tuition is pretty cool. It’s fun to see the transition from a high school student to a young airman.”

The 133rd Airlift Wing faced many obstacles in fiscal year (FY) 2023. Recovering from turnover and reorganization of the program meant the team of two recruiters had to grow – and fast. With support from wing leadership and rapid sourcing of some fresh talent, the team has grown to five recruiters, ready to surpass the goals set for FY 2024. One thing that won’t change is the grassroots recruiting efforts done by members across the Wing.

One of the top lead generators over the course of the past FY was command emphasis on “Everyone is a recruiter.” The base implemented the Airman Ambassador Program to help reinforce this reality. Airmen participating in the program went to sporting events or on school visits to share their military experience, highlight opportunities offered by the Air National Guard, and of course, hand out some cool swag.

“I became a volunteer for the Airman Ambassador Program because the Air National Guard has been instrumental in shaping me into the person I am today,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Taylor Nielsen, 133rd Mission Support Group. “I want to inspire the younger generation by sharing my story and encouraging them to explore new opportunities.”

At the end of the day, it is about the people. “Anyone can apply for a job and get a job, but with the Air Guard, you’re joining a big family,” said Todd. “It’s more than pushing paperwork and taking an oath. It’s way more than that.”