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Retention program targets needs of first-term Guardsmen, families

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Desiree Twombly
  • 162nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
First-term Airmen assigned to the 162nd Maintenance Squadron attended a new retention program called My Air Guard Incentive Career, or MAGIC, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base's Mirage Club, Jan. 8-9.

The program, developed by two maintenance noncommissioned officers, targets first-term Airmen in hopes of influencing them to continue serving after their first enlistment.

The idea initiated by Staff Sgt. Michael Holly, came to him during a regional unit career advisor (UCA) training course he attended last year in Tempe, Ariz.

"We needed a way to explain benefits Guardsmen already have. With no reenlistment bonuses being paid, I felt it was important to inform Airmen of their entitlements as an incentive to get them to reenlist past ten years. Most people, who stay in the Guard after the ten year mark, decide to stay in and make a career out of it," said Sergeant Holly.

With ideas of how to effectively present the program to maintenance leadership, he solicited the help of Tech. Sgt. Eugene Sanders, who is also a UCA in the maintenance squadron.

"When Holly discussed the idea with me, I thought it was a great opportunity that could potentially benefit retention. We took it to our commander and he agreed," said Sergeant Sanders.

The two-day briefing encompassed information relating specifically to Air National Guard careers as well as resources available to spouses. Some of the first day's topics included team building, mentorship, education, retention and career planning. The second day focused on family resources. Speakers presented information on coping with stress, Airmen and family readiness, financial planning and Military One Source programs.

Compared to other programs like the active duty's First-Term Airman Centers or unit newcomer briefings, MAGIC is tailored to meet the unique needs of Airmen and families in the Guard.

"We don't want our fellow Airmen just to show up for drill weekend, we want them to be excited and leave their duty day feeling like their contributions are important to the wing mission. This program allows us to show we care by keeping them informed of available resources so they can use them," said Sergeant Sanders.

Future class dates will be determined by retention needs and feedback provided by attendees. Sergeants Holly and Sanders' long-term goal is to make the program available annually to all first-term Guardsmen in the 162nd Fighter Wing.

"We are going to look at feedback closely and make improvements where necessary. Airmen, spouses and student flight members in attendance will have a voice in the future of the program," said Sergeant Holly.

Senior Airman Christopher Marcsisak and his wife Christina found the information to be "tremendously useful."

"The information provided by Family Readiness was particularly useful. There are programs out there that I was not aware of, so I am looking forward to using some of them and even volunteering," said Christina.

"With all the resources available at my fingertips, it makes us feel like we are not alone," said Airman Marcsisak.

Members of student flight also attended. Tammy Thompson-Garcia is awaiting a date for basic training. She attended with her husband, Sam. She initially had no expectations attending the briefings and departed with a sense of relief.

"From a student perspective, what I found most useful is the tremendous amount of support available to the Guard community. When my husband was in the military, I had no knowledge of programs available to me as a spouse. When my husband deployed, I felt alone. Attending this briefing has really opened my eyes to the Guard community and how we fit in. When I go to basic training, I am comforted knowing the resources that will be available to my family while I'm gone," said Tammy.