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AFRS | Recruiting, Reserve leaders throttle up inspiration at NASCAR race

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

Air Force Reserve Command and Recruiting Service leaders throttled up inspiration and engagement about serving in the military while also celebrating a bit of history at the Talladega Superspeedway Sunday afternoon during the GEICO 500 race here.

Leveraging the long-standing partnership between Air Force Recruiting Service and Legacy Motor Club, the #43 car with the Air Force Thunderbird paint scheme paved the way for a full day of excitement and exposure for the Air Force’s Total Force recruiting initiative and the 75th anniversary of the Air Force Reserve.

“Events like our NASCAR Talladega activation not only allow us to touch the 170,000 people that come out here to see our car go around the track with the Air Force logo and the Air Force Reserve 75th anniversary logo, but broadly we touch millions and millions of people through the live televised broadcast,” said Brig. Gen. Lisa M. Craig, AFRS’s deputy commander. “It’s such a unique opportunity for us to share not only the greatness that the Air Force has to offer, but the Air Force Reserve as the showpiece and centerpiece aligning with the 75th anniversary of NASCAR.”

Earlier in the day and prior to the start of the race, recruiters and AFRS leaders had the opportunity to interact with fans, veterans and individuals who showed an interest in what military service has to offer.

In-service recruiter Master Sgt. Robert Berry, who is based out of Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, said this was one of the largest engagement events he has participated in.

“There are tens of thousands of people here, so the outreach is phenomenal as far as how many people are getting introduced to the Air Force,” he said. “It’s a Total Force event with active duty, Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve all working together. Additionally, we have the Air Force Reserve Command commander, Lt. Gen. John Healy, here, and that’s bringing even more attention. It should be a successful event across the board for all components of the Air Force.”

As the morning turned toward the afternoon, the group of delayed entry program members waiting to take their oath of enlistment in front of thousands of energized race fans got the opportunity to speak candidly with Healy and Craig.

When Healy asked what career fields the young men and women were looking at getting into, the answers ranged from munitions specialist to special operations to an investigator with the Office of Special Investigations.

“I joined just a couple of years ago,” Healy said jokingly before offering some more serious advice. “You’re going to go places you’ve never imagined and may not have even heard of, and you’re going to get to do some totally unexpected things while doing your job. It’s a wonderful opportunity and I encourage you to take it for everything it’s got. You’re going to do well, and I wish you all the best.”

Aside from fielding questions about career paths, Healy and Craig discussed the work-life balance they strive to achieve in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and ensure they have quality time with their families.

“I really try to make sure I reserve two hours for myself in the morning, exercise and then read the news before heading out the door,” Healy said. “In the evening, I try to get uninterrupted time with my wife and do not work from home and go to bed by 9 p.m. … maybe try to watch a little bit of ‘Family Guy.’”

“I don’t have the balance quite as refined as Lt. Gen. Healy,” Craig said. “I get up about 5 a.m., get into the gym for about half an hour, get ready for work and be in the office by 7. I usually leave the office by 6 p.m., and like Lt. Gen. Healy, spend some dedicated time with my spouse.”

The leaders also emphasized how the Air Force is eliminating roadblocks in order to minimize caution flags on the path to becoming an Airman.

“We are working through significant policy changes to ensure the maximum number of Americans can qualify to serve,” Craig said. “So, things in the past, like hand or neck tattoos, that may have prevented an individual from serving are no longer a factor. We are really trying to find individuals who have a strong interest in serving and ensure that as long as they qualify, we have a place for them in one of our 130 different career fields.”

As the start of the race approached, recruiters escorted the delayed entry program members toward the infield stage where Healy joined them to administer their oath and address the crowd that amassed to cheer them on.

“As we celebrate 75 years of Air Force Reserve heritage, I want to give a shout-out to all those who have served in uniform before us and to those who are serving today, inspiring young men and women like these to raise their right hand and take the oath,” Healy said. “The oath of enlistment is significant. It’s a promise made to the country that you will defend the Constitution of the United States and the freedoms that we enjoy every day.”

Lt. Col. Millie Grey-Theriot, 351st Recruiting Squadron commander, summed up the event by saying the day could not have gone any better.

“Today has turned out to be a phenomenal day,” she said. “Having the opportunity to be out here as a Total Force and meeting with our delayed entry program members, fellow active-component recruiters and some great Americans is impactful. We’re letting people know who we are, why we’re proud to serve and why we love being Americans … and more importantly, why we love being Reservists.”

To learn more about serving in the Air Force, Air National Guard or Reserve component, head over to our main site or download the AIM HIGH app to speak directly with a recruiter.