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Air Force Reserve; Keeping the door open

Airmen in front of a classroom speaking to Airmen seated at each desk

Master Sgt. George Wyatt, Air Force Reserve In-service recruiter, speaks to military members at a Preparation Separation Class Sept. 24, 2019 as part of the Transition Assistance Program held at the Offutt AFB Family Readiness Center. The TAP program became mandatory in 2011 to all military members preparing to separate or retire from the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by L. Cunningham)

Master Sergeant sitting behind a desk in his office, listening to Airmen seated in front of the desk

Master Sgt. George Wyatt, Air Force Reserve In-service recruiter meets with a military member June 8, 2021 at the recruiting office at Offutt AFB located in building 88. One of the many jobs of the In-service recruiter is to counsel military members selecting to separate from active duty. (U.S. Air Force photo by L. Cunningham)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ne. --

Have the unprecedented events of the past year made you think about your life and career? Years ago, information was not readily available to Airmen caught up in military cutbacks, or those wishing they could cross-train out of a career and met with Air Force Specialty Codes constraints, and even those not wishing to continue the 24/7 military lifestyle.

Thankfully, times change and information is now available, but Airmen still need to know who to talk to and the questions to ask so that opportunities do not fall through administrative cracks.

“I left with a mindset of I’m finished with the uniform, I’ve done my time and I’m ready to get back into the civilian world and move forward,” said Master Sgt. George Wyatt, 352nd Recruiting Squadron, 55th Force Support Squadron tenant office, In-service reserve recruiter.

Wyatt spent his first eight years on active duty as a munitions system member in maintenance. Not having any idea what the Reserve was at the time, his supervision couldn’t offer the guidance and advised him to talk to the wing career advisor. Fortunately for Wyatt, in 1991 Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which led to the establishment of the Transition Assistance Program that included briefings for those being released from the military.

“My experience with the Guard and Reserve was in a deployed environment, so I knew nothing about it,” said Wyatt.

Although he was skeptical at the time, in his last few days of meeting with his active duty In-service recruiter, Wyatt changed his mind and decided to try the reserve. In the civilian world, Wyatt worked in law enforcement while ‘keeping the door open’ in the reserve.

“Being in the reserve, is a completely different mindset from active duty and it still gives you the chance to be part of the civilian world and living a civilian life, while maintaining the opportunity to serve and keep your benefits” said Wyatt.

The Air Force Reserve, which is not to be confused with the Air National Guard, provides and maintains qualified trained units. The Reserve is on a federal and not state level, it “does not have a state mission” and is not called upon to respond to floods, fires and other disasters, if needed they respond in times of war or national emergency filling in stateside service positions when active duty are overseas.

You can find Reserve units in most states, and those without typically have Individual Mobilization Augmentee positions.

“In my current capacity, my main focus are those separating from active duty. Every active duty location has In-service recruiter, or Reserve office associated with that base” said Wyatt. “There is also a wing career advisor at every base who can direct them to the Reserve office.”

One of the many tasks the In-service recruiter has is to try and get information out, meeting with the first sergeants, speaking with commanders, with Airmen, with the family readiness center and the education office so everyone in the wing has a POC to go to.

“You go to any unit, any first sergeant, that first sergeant knows who I am,” said Wyatt “They are going to be able to send their information to me, and follow up with phone calls and emails from the first sergeants on behalf of the individual.”

Before COVID hit last year, the reserve office held briefings on a larger scale, briefings informing not only the wing career advisor on informed decisions, the pre-separations office with the family readiness center, the chiefs group and the first sergeants.

After a few months of utilizing Zoom and then Microsoft teams, they were able to slowly transition to in-person briefings. And as individuals continue to separate from active duty service, the recruiter is notified directly.

Wyatt’s job is then to make contact with each individual to make sure that the individual is actually separating, planning on reenlisting or extending. If an individual has made the final decision to separate, Wyatt will actually sit down and have a one on one meeting to discuss their plan.

“It’s not just the retention piece for the Air Force Reserve, it is goal setting and making sure that the individual is making a good decision,” Wyatt said. “So that we know it’s not a knee jerk reaction to an emotional based response because they are mad at their supervisor and that they have really thought things through and they are prepared for separation.”

There are four status options within the participating reserve:

- Active Guard Reserve (AGR) which is a title 10 active duty status with active duty benefits just like the active duty, the only difference is the AGR gets paid out of the Air Force Reserve Command and AGR members can actually select where to be stationed

- Air Reserve Technician (ART) which is a GS or WG position tied to the reserve and is a Monday thru Friday employment and still serve one weekend a month. Typically these positions are stateside, Alaska and Hawaii. The ART vacancy listed, its reserve position is tied/linked to rank and paygrade. Both civilian and military retirement benefits and options available until you leave that ART position.

- Traditional Reservist (TR) which is a part time, one weekend a month, two weeks during the summer for annual tour totaling 39 days. In the TR if you are not happy with current AFSC on active duty, as long as you qualify, the In-service recruiter can approve cross-training into any AFSC to which you are eligible for. 

- Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) which is also part time, typically you must be fully qualified in the AFSC and a 5 level to apply. You can do all 39 days at one time throughout the year, although some units will require you to come twice a year, splitting up the 39 days, part of the 39 days and the remainder within six months. The total of the 39 days count for your benefits and actual year toward your retirement. These positions can be stateside, Alaska & Hawaii and overseas in Europe and Asia.

If individuals are undecided, the recruiter counsels them on the pros that most are not aware of such as receiving and maintaining both medical benefits and educational benefits.

“The beautiful thing about the Reserve is, if you don’t like it, it is not a long term deal like it is with active duty, you go home, you live your civilian life. It’s the small things that happen on the side,” Wyatt said. “The big difference, it keeps that door open. So try and it and see if it works for you and your family situation and your education.”

Almost ten years later Wyatt is now back on active duty status in the Active Guard Reserve as an In-service recruiter. He enjoys recruiting and ‘giving back, giving people opportunities going forward,’ and has recently selected his next assignment at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Air Force Base in New Jersey.

The In-service recruiters are located in Building 88, 2nd floor. For more information contact the Airman Family Readiness Center, the wing career advisor, first sergeants or go to AFReserve.com or call 1-800-257-1212.