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Reserve recruiter knows first-hand the benefits of ‘staying blue’

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Bobby Pilch
  • 367th Recruiting Group, Air Force Reserve Command

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga.-- When Master Sgt. Jason Madigan talks to active-duty Airmen about possibly making the switch over to the Air Force Reserve, he knows exactly what he’s talking about.

After serving nine years as a firefighter and two years as a recruiter for the active-duty component of the Air Force, Madigan decided to “stay blue” and transitioned to the Air Force Reserve more than six years ago. The in-service recruiter assigned to the 351st Recruiting Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, hasn’t looked back since.

Like a lot of Reserve Citizen Airmen, Madigan was attracted by the stability offered by the Reserve.

“The deciding factor for me was the ability to stay at the location I was at in Mishawaka, Indiana, which was home for me,” Madigan said. "If I would have stayed on active duty, I would’ve had to go to military entry processing or into a tier-two recruiting assignment. With the Reserve, it gave me three more years to recruit back home in Indiana, which was pivotal for me because I was starting a family at the time.”

Some service members have a lapse in their career when deciding to make the transition from active duty to the Reserve Component due to educational goals or family obligations. Some are unaware of the flexibility the Reserve offers, to serve either full- or part-time.

“My journey was a little bit different than your average Air Force Reservist,” Madigan said. “I came straight off active duty into an Active Guard and Reserve position. I worked alongside the Reserve recruiter in Mishawaka and he got me in touch with the recruiting flight chief at Grissom (Air Reserve Base, Indiana). I interviewed with the Reserve recruiting headquarters, and they hired me.”

Madigan has served in a full-time AGR position as a recruiter for the past six years. He said there are a lot of misconceptions active-duty Airmen often have about transitioning to the Reserve – everything from retirement benefits to how many days Reservists serve over the course of a year.

“Before I switched over to the Reserve from active duty, I heard several rumors and falsehoods,” he said. “The big one for me was, ‘you can only serve in the Reserve as a traditional Reservist on the weekends, and you won’t collect your retirement until you’re 60 years old.’”

Madigan said he quickly learned that there are numerous opportunities and different ways to serve in the Reserve.

“You can be a traditional Reservist working one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer for a total of 38 days or you can serve as an individual mobilization augmentee, which allows you to serve 38 to 48 consecutive days a year – all in one straight shot,” he said.

“You can also serve as an Air Reserve Technician, where you are a full-time civil service member during the week and then perform one weekend a month as a traditional Reservist. Lastly, there are opportunities to serve in the AGR, which is what I am. AGRs receive the same pay and benefits as an active-duty member, to include retirement, for a specified term. I think that’s the amazing thing about the Reserve – you can do as little as 38 days per year or serve in a full-time capacity as an ART or AGR. It’s all about your flexibility and choosing the option that works best for you and your unit.”

Aside from the flexibility the Reserve provides, Madigan said there is a culture that permeates throughout the Reserve that brings together individuals from diverse backgrounds and civilian career fields who want more out of themselves and their co-workers.

“I think the Reserve has an amazing culture,” he said. “I have served with so many different people from all walks of life and with different backgrounds. From other active-duty members who made the transition into the Reserve after their contract was up to people who have spent their entire career in the Reserve. I have served with lawyers, firefighters, police officers, financial advisors, nurses and doctors – all coming together to serve one weekend a month.”

Madigan said there have been numerous intangible benefits that came from his decision to stay blue and pursue a long-term career in recruiting for the Reserve.

“The biggest benefit I have received from my years of service is friendship,” he said. “Throughout the last 17 years, I have had the honor to meet and become very close friends with some amazing people. I think having friends with the same morals and motivation as you is very critical. Your friends keep you honest, they challenge you, they can pick you up when you go through a tough time, and they can be there to celebrate your success.”

“It is so important to have an amazing support system in life,” said Madigan. “When I retire, I will look back at all the friends who became like family to me. That’s the thing I will treasure most out of my career. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had and all the people who have come into my life and helped change it for the better.”

To hear more about Master Sgt. Jason Madigan's career and the benefits of serving, check out his interview on the AirPower Hour podcast. To learn more about serving in the Air Force Reserve, head over the AIM HIGH app. to connect with a local recruiter.