GURNEE, Ill. — A ribbon cutting ceremony for the nation’s first Total Force Air and Space Force recruiting office was held in Gurnee, Illinois, July 27, 2021.
The Gurnee Mills Mall storefront station will provide recruiting services for the active duty Air Force, Illinois Air National Guard and Space Force — all components of the Department of the Air Force. Each component supports aspects of the department’s core missions, but offers varying options of benefits and service experiences dependent on a recruit’s personal and professional desires and goals.
Brig. Gen. Lisa Craig, the deputy commander of Air Force Recruiting Service, said the realization of the Gurnee Total Force office was unprecedented.
“We are so excited about this particular office,” she said. “It is a historic moment for us in Total Force recruiting to open this particular office. Nationwide, it’s the first of its kind. First of its kind. That’s pretty big.”
Craig also cited a quote that says, “A rising tide raises all boats.”
“We feel that when we work together, we actually can elevate all of the young people who will come through here to the next level of their lives and their livelihoods,” she said. “‘Do you want to serve your nation and your community? Do you want to serve in uniform or out of uniform? Fulltime or part-time?’ We will find the right fit for our young people throughout our nation, but especially here in the Chicagoland area, to be able to find that right fit for them to be able to serve our nation.”
The Total Force recruiting station initiative is one result of the 2014 National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force study that recommended enhanced integration of the service’s active duty, Reserve, and Air National Guard components. The Total Force Integration initiatives, or TFI, are projected to create more opportunities and incentives for Airmen while simultaneously lowering personnel costs and increasing Air Force readiness and capabilities.
“I come from a unit where we’ve been doing TFI for about 20 years,” said Brig. Gen. Konata Crumbly, the Air National Guard assistant to the Air Force Recruiting Service commander, “and I can’t tell you the amount of benefit it’s also reaped for our state, our country and for the Airmen, in particular.”
Crumbly echoed that the success of the Total Force pilot programs such as the Gurnee station are dependent on relationships and flexible capabilities.
“If any of you are wondering if this works, will it work? I’m here to tell you — I flew up from Georgia to tell you — that it does work, and it works well.”
“This ceremony marks a historic point in the relationship between the United States Air Force, United States Space Force, the Illinois Air National Guard and the wonderful community,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jason Arndt, a production superintendent with the Illinois Air National Guard and the ceremony narrator. “Certainly, we are proud of the storefront, but our greatest pride is reserved to the fine Airmen who will work here and the citizens of this community whom this facility will serve.”
Distinguished visitors in attendance who toured the new facility included:
- The Honorable Joyce Mason, an Illinois state representative from Gurnee;
- Maj. Gen. Peter Nezamis, the assistant adjutant general – Air, Illinois National Guard;
- Brig. Gen. Lisa Craig, the deputy commander of Air Force Recruiting Service;
- Brig. Gen. Konata Crumbly, the Air National Guard assistant to the Air Force Recruiting Service commander;
- Col. Layne Trosper, the commander of the 372rd Recruiting Group.
Chicagoland recruits interested in serving fulltime or part-time in the Air Force or Space Force can visit the Gurnee Mills Mall recruiting station located at 6170 West Grand Avenue, Gurnee, Illinois 60031. Office hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and Saturdays by appointment. The recruiters can be reached by phone at 309-273-8035.