A reserved perspective

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jeremy S. Reynolds
  • 512th Mission Support Group
I thought I knew what it was like to be an honored member of the Air Force family with 13 years of active-duty service in the regular Air Force consisting of six years as an enlisted member and seven years as an officer.

My family and I moved around a lot in that time, gaining numerous experiences. We have been stationed at eight different bases, involving nine moves spanning, two continents in five major commands with jobs at the flight, squadron and group levels, as well as a strategic assignment at an air operations center. Then, I became an Air Reserve Technician in the Air Force Reserve.

How hard can this move be from the regular Air Force to the Reserve? Surely, I'll be able to walk right in without missing a beat, right?

Oh, how wrong I was.

The uniform -- I'm a civilian during the day, but I'm still wearing my military uniform. The other folks in the office are ARTs as well, but they get to wear civilian clothes. Why? Because they are bargaining employees; and I'm not. But, what's a bargaining employee, and how come I'm not one? My head is starting to spin.

The timecard -- Wait, I have to fill out a timecard? I'm in my military uniform. Can't you just make me stay as long as needed to get the job done? If I stay a couple hours late tonight, can I just come in a couple hours late tomorrow morning? Nope! I stayed late; so, is it credit time or is it comp time? I'm still trying to sort out all the differences.

The job -- As the executive officer for the Mission Support Group, my main responsibilities revolve around enlisted and officer performance reports, decorations, fitness, government travel card issues, travel vouchers and more. These are all the same duties and issues active-duty units deal with on a daily basis. But, there are only two or three people working in our squadrons on a fulltime. How is this supposed to work? I guess we just wait for our members to come in during the unit training assembly to work these issues, correct? Surely, we're not held to the same standard as our active-duty counterparts who are here every day? Wrong again.

Reports must still be processed, travel vouchers must be completed and fitness testing must still be accomplished twice a year with only a skeleton crew to make it work.

What have I gotten myself into?

The leave -- I'm going on a temporary duty assignment during the week. No big deal, right? Only now, I have to take leave if I'm TDY, even though I'm performing military duty. I get military leave, but if I've already used 120 hours of my military leave, I have to use my personal leave. As a recent active-duty member, this is hard to understand. My unit is asking, maybe telling me, that I need to perform a military duty, but I'll have to use my personal leave while I'm gone.

I think I need to sit down, I'm getting confused.

The orders -- I'm going to need my orders for my TDY. Like active duty, I need to create my orders in the Defense Travel System and that's it, right? Now that I'm on the Reserve side, I need to get into the Air Reserve Orders Writing System first, which will then push my orders to DTS. But what status will I be in? Will it be a Reserve Management Period, Reserve Personnel Appropriation, Military Personnel Appropriation or UTA? Will I get points? What do I need points for anyway?

Somebody, please help me.

What first started out as confidence, blossomed into exasperation. The truth is, there are so many differences between the regular Air Force and the Air Force Reserve. It's been just over a year since I've been on the job, and I'm still learning and adapting, as we all do when a major life change occurs. Believe me, this was a major life change.

It's been an interesting ride this past year, and I look forward to many more with my Reserve brothers and sisters. I believe the important thing to remember is, at the end of the day, whether we are active duty or Reserve: We are all part of the Air Force family. We all play our part and are an important key to the success of the Air Force mission, regardless of processes and paperwork. Stay focused on the mission, stay grounded with family; and, success is sure to follow.