Strengthening pillars: Civilian employers observe military life of Reserve Citizen Airmen

Civilian employers pose for a group photo in front of a C-1 7 Globemaster III

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Civilian employers pose for a group photo before boarding a C-17 Globemaster III during Employer Orientation Day at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, Aug 6, 2021. Employer Orientation Day is an opportunity for Reserve Citizen Airmen to invite their civilian employers to visit the 446th Airlift Wing to observe and understand what Reservists do in support of national defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ann Butler)

Military commander speaks in front of seated civilian employers.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Col. Charles Metzgar, vice commander of the 446th Airlift Wing, welcomes civilian employers to the wing during Employer Orientation Day at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, Aug 6, 2021. Metzgar explains to employers how vital their support is for the wing during his mission briefing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ann Butler)

Civilian employers sit in the cargo bay of a military aircraft.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Loadmasters perform pre-flight checks before taking off with civilian employers during Employer Orientation Day at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, Aug 6, 2021. The purpose of the event is for civilian employers to observe what Reserve Citizen Airmen do to support national defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ann Butler)


Being a Reserve Citizen Airman comes with one’s time, energy and devotion to three pillars - family, civilian employer, and the Air Force Reserve.

One weekend a month and 15 days out of the year, Reserve Citizen Airmen perform military duty, while the rest of the time they focus on the other two pillars.

Dividing attention between the pillars can be challenging. However, letting one pillar peek behind the curtain and see the other can help balance it all.

“We have a lot to do, but (with) not as much time as active duty,” said Tech Sgt. Allen Jackson, a religious affairs airman from the 446th Airlift Wing Chaplain Corps. “It’s important for our employers to be able to understand what we do and see what is required of us.”

Reservists need to have trust and understanding from civilian employers. One way to build that trust comes from an Employer Orientation Day.

So, on Aug. 6, twenty-two civilian employers supported their Reserve Citizen Airmen by attending the 446th Airlift Wing’s Employer Orientation Day here.

Employer Orientation Day is a day for Reservists to invite their civilian employer to experience what their employees do in the Air Force Reserve to help build trust among the pillars.

For Susan Giblin, a center manager at United Parcel Service and Jackson’s immediate civilian supervisor, attending the Employer Orientation Day enhanced her perspective.

“It’s awesome, it gives me a broader perspective,” said Giblin. “Everyone has preconceived notions about military life and being able to participate in this great experience gives me a greater appreciation for Reservists, like my employee, and what they do.”

The event consisted of civilian employers flying on a C-17 Globemaster III and observing how medics turn an aircraft into a flying hospital.

Another employer, who attended the orientation event, was excited to fly on a military aircraft and see what his Reservist did on a drill weekend.

“I’ve never been on a C-17 before, it’s exciting to be able to see what my airman does during his weekends,” said Greg Richardson, the senior quality manager of 737 Boeing aircraft at Boeing Aerospace Company and civilian supervisor to Master Sgt. Jon Touma, a loadmaster with the 97th Airlift Squadron.

Some Reservists perform more than the standard one weekend a month and two weeks a year. Hosting this event allows Reservists to help their civilian supervisors understand what they do when they are away from their civilian jobs.

“We miss a lot of (civilian) work,” said Touma. “It’s important that our employers see what we are doing during those times to help understand the sacrifice that is made with Reservists between work, family and the Air Force.”