News | Nov. 10, 2020

Bio: Example of an endless desire to serve

By Rossi D. Pedroza-Bertrand 940th Air Refueling Wing

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Matt P. Proietti is a four-time recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award which is the highest honor in military journalism. Adding among other things he has undertaken professionally in his career, he accepted an invite extended to him from the 940th Air Refueling Wing to speak and teach a class on a military must-have.  

The 940 ARW command chiefs knew Proietti was sure act to instruct on how to write an Air Force biography because of his public affairs experience, years in the field and reputation.

His entire Air Force career expands 36 years from 1984 when he enlisted at the age of 18 until his recent retirement on March 1st, 2020.

As daily normal routine is with the coronavirus in town, Zoom, a cloud-based video communication software platform, was set up in a private office at the 940 ARW to broadcast, capture and record Chief Proietti sharing his expertise to a virtual audience.  His performance along with the presentation was recorded so it can be referenced later on the command chief’s shared point site as a training resource.

Chief Master Sgt. Daniel P. McCarthy, 940th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent commented,” I thought Chief Proietti brought great perspective to the subject as a career journalist and public affairs member. His many years of service provided him with unique exposure to a wide variety of career fields and missions. As a result, he has a clear picture of what consistently makes a successful military biography and the impact it can have on a member’s career, regardless of career path.”  

When asked how Proietti thought the Zoom session went, he responded, “I think it went fine to sum it all up in 45 minutes. I gave people the basics on how to prepare an official biography, the uses of an official biography and how I have personally benefited from having my Air Force biography always ready and updated, and ready to send when an opportunity presented itself.

“Even if I just saw an email or heard of something at a conference or if a friend told me about an opportunity, ‘Boom!’  I had my bio. I almost never sent my resume with the Air Force.”

“I used it as an opportunity if some organization was looking for someone for a TDY, I would sent by Air Force bio.”

Proietti continued, “I was basically (during the presentation) encouraging people. I was an Airman Basic when I started, no stripes with just one ribbon. There is not really much you can say about your career the first year. I was explaining right about the time you are ready to reenlist after your first enlistment or after the first four years, this is about the time you can probably start a bio.”

“For example, you are a Senior Airmen and you are going to move up to Staff Sergeant and maybe just graduating from Airmen Leadership School, which is when things start happening other than just knowing how to do your job.”

Also he was adamant, “Don’t put adjectives in there! Don’t describe yourself!”

In other words, be proud of what you have accomplished and earned, but don’t talk about how great you are.

Proietti summed it up by saying, “Make sure your bio is concise. Your bio speaks for itself when you are the one chosen.”

And for those Citizen Reserve Airmen who have had an opportunity to get to know and work with Chief Matt Proietti over the years and have wondered what else he could possibly be doing besides enjoying the absence of an alarm clock in his life, the question was asked about his post- retirement lifestyle. He briefly described it.

“Besides having serves as a reservist for the Air Force, I am a civilian reservist with Federal Emergency Management Agency. I basically do what the Air Force public affairs office does only it is called external affairs,” said Proietti.  Just two days after hanging up his uniform on March 3rd, he received a phone call from FEMA and now he has been working for the agency almost full time since March 7th.

He is currently a manager in the planning and products office in the FEMA’s external affairs branch.

He recently supported tornado work in Tennessee and returned home to California to work three to four months on COVID-19 stuff.  “Now since early September I have been working outside of Sacramento with the writing crew about wild fire recovery. We do all the news releases and fact sheets. We get all of the information out that people need to know how to apply for federal aid with their personal home or property that’s been damaged or destroyed.”

 “I’ve been with FEMA since 2004 but I did so much Air Force time and Reserve time back then that I did not do that much FEMA time,” explained Proietti. “I’ve done maybe eight disasters: Iowa, North Carolina, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and this current one is in California.  So this is the first time I have ever worked a disaster recovery operation in my own state. So that’s great!”

Proietti commented, “The writing itself is sorta boring but it’s essential. It’s not creative at all. We are doing the same writing that the people in Louisiana are doing about hurricanes and that I am doing for the people of California about wildfires. The only thing that really changes is the type of disaster but not the information.”

Continuing, “It doesn’t matter if your home was destroyed by fire or by hurricane, it doesn’t matter what destroyed it, steps you take to recovery are the same. That’s the stuff we get out in the news releases. We have people that go out talk to the news media and they use our products. The stuff that we write, it has to be accurate.”

Proietti concluded, “That’s what I have been doing since I retired. I haven’t been doing retirement. I know that much.”