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From the Top: Notes from the Road

Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, Air Force Reserve Command commander

Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, Air Force Reserve Command commander

Citizen Airman/Aug. 2014 -- One of the most important aspects of my job is visiting units and meeting our Citizen Airmen. This is my chance to hear directly from you, from the brand-new Airmen to our most seasoned professionals. I'd like to take this opportunity to share a few of my notes from the road.

Your talent is on display. I accompanied Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James to visit the Air Force Reserve wings at Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts; Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina; and Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. She likes to get to the root of the issues by listening to our Airmen. I appreciated how each wing proudly showcased the talent of our men and women. What a great impression you made!

Our Airmen's expertise is incredible. I recently visited Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, home to the only full-time, fixed-wing aerial spray unit within the Department of Defense. I was fortunate to get a ride on one of the unit's specially modified C-130s. As I watched the crew in action, their years of experience and system knowledge were on clear display. Every day, similarly skilled Air Force Reserve teams deliver for our nation, in a wide variety of mission areas. For that, I'm tremendously grateful!

Leadership at all levels matters. When I visit a base, I like to meet as many people as possible to get a sense of the unit's climate. I meet with commanders and chiefs to get their views from the top. I also meet with the first sergeants, as they are my primary source for understanding the people issues. I enjoy dining with young Airmen and getting the viewpoints of our next generation. I also always sit down with the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator to discuss current challenges and make sure we are doing everything we can to prevent sexual assault. No matter which group I meet with, I'm looking for the leaders, because if leadership is infused at all levels and we are taking care of our people, then I'm confident the unit is taking care of the mission.

Your service is deeply appreciated. One of my favorite road trips is to a Yellow Ribbon event, where I meet with our deployers and their families. Deploying and answering the nation's call to duty always impacts the "reserve-work-life" balance of our Citizen Airmen. Yellow Ribbon events help with this balance by giving Airmen and their families an opportunity to focus on their personal needs and assisting through a variety of resources.

Chief Master Sergeant Kirksey's commentary further addresses how much we value Yellow Ribbon events, for they give both of us a chance to tell you and your families, "Thanks for all you do!"