JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Being a traditional reservist can be challenging. Reserve Citizen Airmen leave home for one weekend a month and 15 days out of the year or longer, and are expected to work at a level equivalent to active duty Air Force members.
Often their civilian employers don’t know what goes into the work that Reserve Citizen Airmen do to maintain readiness.
This is why the 446th Airlift Wing, along with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, held an annual Employer Day, on July 21, 2022, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
Employer Day is an event for Reservists to invite their civilian employer to experience what their employees do in the Air Force Reserve.
This year, 23 employers came to the base and flew aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. The passengers took pictures in the cockpit, spoke with the aircrew, as well as saw Reservists perform their military jobs on the aircraft.
The visitors received a briefing on the 446 AW mission, and how important their employees are to the local and global operations.
“I have a new appreciation coming here today,” said David Baker, the director of operations over the 737 airframe division at The Boeing Company. “Employees go on their leave for military service, but we never think about it in that moment, and just listening to the briefing here today adds a new appreciation for me and what they do.”
Baker is the employer of Tech. Sgt. Thema Bentley, a 446th Maintenance Squadron field systems technician. Bentley nominated him to attend Employer Day because of how supportive and kind he is as a director at The Boeing Company.
“Mr. Baker is a really nice guy, initially I didn’t know he was prior Navy, and didn’t even know who he was when I first met him but he was very kind and listened to what I had to say,” said Bentley. “He’s always very willing to listen, empathetic, and very compassionate about what we’re doing and always supportive.”
Inviting civilian employers on base for Employer Day helps build a stronger connection, bridging the gap between Reserve military life and civilian employment, and creating a smooth functioning environment for everyone involved.
“The hardest part is navigating the differences between working at the 446 AW versus The Boeing Company, because they’re very different,” said Bentley. “It’s really nice to look at how the Air Force does things and then go to Boeing and think about how I can make things better. It definitely makes me a better Boeing employee.”