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Navigating the Reserve World

349th Air Mobility Wing patch

349th Air Mobility Wing patch

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

After serving more than five years as an active duty Airman, I was confident in my abilities to be a successful leader and proficient in my career field while having a high understanding of the Air Force culture.

As I transitioned into the Air Force Reserve, I assumed the adjustment would be seamless and was excited to continue serving my country while having more flexibility with my schedule.

However, navigating through the Reserve culture was like drinking from a firehose. Suddenly, I was immersed in a world of 40As, satisfying a good reserve year, and logging into unfamiliar programs called ARCnet and AROWs to create a schedule and receive a paycheck.

These concepts were briefly introduced during my first day of duty. Although I tried to soak up as much information as possible, I relied on seasoned Airmen to provide further guidance, and answer my questions as they arose.

A few months into my Reserve career, I was introduced to the 349th Air Mobility Wing Reserve Airman Handbook, and it felt like a ray of sunshine had just broken the clouds looming overhead. The handbook features a variety of topics including readiness requirements, mobilization, pay categories, types of participation and benefit entitlements. Finally, I had all the information needed to be a successful Reservist right in my hands.

After reading the book, I realized that both new and seasoned Reservists alike could benefit from this resource. Not only does it introduce new concepts to the forces greenest Citizen Airmen, but it serves as a refresher for more experienced members.

The handbook stresses the importance of being responsible for your own readiness, currency, training and career progression. Although leadership can provide guidance, and assist with making sure you are on the right career path, it is ultimately your mission to track these requirements and remain a current, qualified and proficient Airman. For instance, you should always know when your fitness assessment and performance reports are coming due.

In addition to explaining how to satisfy the requirements, the handbook provides unit specific mission information about leadership, wing organization, and how Reservists support the overarching Air Force mission. It also provides a description of the dynamic relationship between Traditional Reservists and Air Reserve Technicians.

Reading the 349th AMW Reserve Airman Handbook has given me the confidence to take care of my basic requirements, meet mission requirements, and serve as a mentor for other Airmen needing assistance navigating the Reserve culture.

I encourage all members of the wing to download the handbook, which is located on the 349th AMW SharePoint – it can really help you navigate to the road of success!