Recruiters are invaluable to the U.S. Air Force.
They provide materials and information concerning service, basic training, technical schooling and career opportunities to people who are interested in becoming a member.
For Staff Sgt. Judith Lopez, a 162nd Wing production recruiter, her friends played that role in her own life.
“I had a few friends that were in the Arizona Air National Guard tell me about it [the Guard],” said Lopez. “That is what brought me to the Guard, because I had no idea it was a thing.”
Born in Nogales, Ariz., it was important for Lopez to stay local. She is the first member of her family to enter any branch of service.
“Where I come from in Nogales, there isn’t really a military footprint there,” said Lopez. “In high school we would see recruiters here and there, but it wasn’t common for people to join the military after graduating high school.”
Lopez attended Pima Community College with intentions to have a career in law enforcement. After a change of heart, she joined the 162nd Wing in 2012 and worked as a commander support staff member before becoming a recruiter.
“I was in admin for nine years,” Lopez said. “I was at the alert detachment for seven years, then I went to maintenance, and then pilot operations.”
After nearly a decade of admin work, she wanted to challenge herself with something new. Her inspiration came from the positive experience she had while being recruited.
“When I think about my recruiter, that’s how I want to give back to my community,” said Lopez. “I thought it would be awesome if I could have the opportunity to be that person.”
As a recruiter, the admin work continues for Lopez. She also conducts job tours, attends appointments with potential applicants, makes school visits, and does evaluations of medical records.
“You’re not just sitting at a desk doing the same things,” said Lopez. “You have to be organized and have good time management.”
Lopez said that recruiters have the freedom to flex their schedule, but this comes at the cost of all-day availability.
“I might come into work at 8 a.m., but I am still texting applicants at 7 p.m. while watching my son’s baseball game,” said Lopez. “Your mind is always thinking about keeping the applicants on a timeline and reorganizing them based on needs that are time sensitive.”
Despite the high pace and high demand of being a recruiter, Lopez finds fulfillment in her current career.
“I love when I see the families of new enlistees watch the oath taking and they are so proud,” said Lopez. “I’m proud to know I helped them get through this. It’s very rewarding in that sense.”