MacDill Reservist attends annual congressional visit with wing commander

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Emily Treiber
  • 927th Air Refueling Wing/Finance
It was an honor to not only be nominated, but also to be selected as the 927th Air Refueling Wing, Airman of the year for 2014! Never would I have guessed the opportunities that would come my way because of that.

Each year, every wing commander is required to make a trip to Washington D.C., to visit their State Representatives and Senators. The commanders use this annual trip to discuss base related issues and needs. In July, I had the honor of accompanying Col. Randy Bright, 927 ARW, commander and Chief Master Sgt. Michael Klausutis, 927 ARW, command chief, on their annual Congressional visit.

We began our long, eventful trip at the Pentagon walking the halls and observing all the U.S. Military history displayed. History that truly opened my eyes to what each of us does to create tomorrow's history, all components and every branch of service.

This trip, although fun and exciting, it was no vacation, we had appointments to be at and meetings to participate in, causing a longer day than our typical 8am to 5pm schedule I have at home station. We met other U.S. Air Force Reservists and government officials. Col. Bright told me to be prepared to tell my story, a lot!

He explained that the congress members would be more interested in talking to me and hearing my story and my opinion than anything else...and he was right! They were all very interested in hearing what I had to say and what I brought to the table. One specific issue that was continuously brought up by our leadership was the Transition Assistance Program. 

I had the opportunity to openly share my opinion concerning the program. The way I understand it is if a reservist serves on long tour orders for 180 days or more, they are required to attend TAPS, even if members have full-time employment to return to when they get home.  The TAPS program has been in place for active-duty personnel for many years to help ease the transition from military to civilian life by providing resume help, interview tips, and other very valuable information.  My personal belief is that the program can be extremely helpful for some reserve members but not as much for others. I had an elementary teaching position right before I deployed, and when I returned from my deployment I was put on another set of long tour orders. However, I was still required to go to TAPS. 

The biggest take away I had from this trip was enhanced leadership skills. My wing commander invited me to represent the 927 ARW, I had one-on-one mentorship that most Airmen don't ever have the opportunity to receive.

Meeting the country's lawmakers, including Congressman Dennis Ross, who represents the district I live in, I was able to watch them genuinely care about concerns that were brought up and issues that we brought up, showing me qualities of an effective leader.

As an effective leader, it's important to listen to your people; that is what I witnessed while I was in Washington D.C., on all levels. In order for our wing commander and command chief to up-channel issues, they must first understand them. The same goes to the members of congress, they wanted to hear out of my mouth how things are, I was heard, my opinion matters.

This experience is one I will remember forever, an experience that confirms my faith in this country, military and wing.