As my three years serving as the Active Duty Staff Judge Advocate for March Air Reserve Base comes to an end, I am reminded of how lucky I have been to be part of not just Team March, but living in a community that understands the importance of the military and has deep respect and admiration for what the military does. It’s no wonder, of course, as there is a huge population of the Inland Empire that has current or former connections to the military. While that might explain some of what I’ve seen, it does not provide the full answer. Ultimately, I believe March ARB is surrounded by folks who are just very kind and patriotic. We see this in the outpouring of support for what Team March does. We see this in the flags and banners that fly around Moreno Valley of our military members. We see this in our annual community appreciation picnic wherein volunteers from around the community pitch in to show their support of Team March. Members of Team March, likewise, continually reach out to the local community in their full time jobs, with part time jobs or as volunteers.
There are countless opportunities that members of Team March can do to show our thanks for our surrounding communities. Our private organizations reach out to assist those in need in the local area. John Morris recruits volunteers to place flags at the graves of our fallen heroes. Numerous employees are coaches or active in their children’s school. There are hundreds of men and women assigned to Team March who, every week, donate countless hours to local community activities or agencies. This dedication to helping others should be applauded. On a personal level, I’ve served as a director of my community’s Home Owners Association (HOA) board and have been a volunteer for the Moreno Valley Police Department for the last two years. As a lawyer, I thought this would be a great volunteer activity for me to (1) have a reason to leave work a few nights a month before 8 p.m., (2) give back to my community and (3) do something personally and professionally rewarding. After attending the Citizen’s Academy at the Ben Clark Training Center and given substantial – on the-job training, I was authorized a police uniform and given the privilege of driving one of the department’s black and white patrol vehicles. From helping protect the perimeter of crime scenes to directing traffic around traffic collisions or road blocks, if you saw a pudgy deputy in a police vest – it might have been me! We’d also do many civic outreach events, from schools to festivals and I would ensure I reached out to anyone interested about service to their community and the work the police department does for the citizens of Moreno Valley, but I would also hand out Air Force material for those folks interested in service to their nation. Remember, wherever you go, you represent the greatest military that this planet has ever seen – capitalize on that opportunity to share your military story with those you meet.
According to Lt. Col. Erin Meinders, Commander of the 362nd Recruiting Squadron, a proud part of Team March, “whether you’re an officer, enlisted, civilian, contractor or family member everything you say and do contribute to the public’s perception of who we are, and what we stand for.” As such always remember that you are likely influencing someone’s decision to join our team. You might not have even been speaking to them directly, but to their uncle, cousin or sister. Each time you reach out to the community, ask you self how you did and whether or not you left the impression that you wanted?.
We are all recruiters. Everything you do shapes the American public’s perception of their Air Force and you can influence a person’s decision to enlist — or not. Remember that your appearance and conduct, both on and off-duty reflect on the Air Force, and so does your attitude and the very words you use. You don’t need to be a walking air power encyclopedia — just be yourself, sincere and genuine.
Our partnership with our community is critical. One of the many acronyms for TEAM that I think is so very true is “Together, Everyone Achieves More.” This is so very true regarding our base’s relationship with our local community! Team March, keep up the great work! For more information on volunteer activities, please reach out to our Airman and Family Readiness Center at (951) 655-5322. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the Moreno Valley Police Department, please call (951) 486-6700.