Master Sgt. Brittany, 91st Attack Squadron first sergeant, is unique.
She is one of the first enlisted aviators who have taken the step outside her career field to become a first sergeant, while still maintaining her flight hours and required qualifications.
“I have a passion for helping people,” said Brittany. “I wanted an opportunity to build them up and that is what drew me to this opportunity.”
It was announced in 2020 that career enlisted aviators may now perform duties outside of their flying squadron in a first sergeant role and still be eligible to maintain their flight hours and other training required as a flyer.
“One of the biggest fears hindering Airmen from seeking special duties was that if they were gone too long they would lose valuable qualifications,” said Chief Master Sgt. Travon W. Dennis, Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command, command first sergeant. “That shouldn’t be the case in any AFSC, we’re giving those folks an opportunity to temporarily leave the career field to gain experience and knowledge.”
Like many enlisted aviators, Brittany said that while she had been interested in becoming a first sergeant, she didn’t want to leave the flying community and go non-current on her qualifications.
“I feel like not many enlisted aviators want to leave the flying world, because trying to break back into the career field when you’re non-qualified is so difficult,” said Brittany.
However, seeing the updated policy, she immediately spoke with her leadership, who were able to make her retraining happen, even in the midst of a pandemic.
For Brittany, being a new first sergeant during COVID-19 has come with unique hurdles, including attending the first and only completely virtual first sergeant school. However, with the support of the squadron leadership and the use of technology she has been able to support her people through a challenging year.
“I never imagined a few years ago that I would be a first sergeant, let alone get my diamond virtually, but I am thankful for the fantastic technology that has allowed me to connect and stay connected in this unprecedented year,” she said.
Brittany will serve as a first sergeant for the next three years and will maintain her basic qualification, making the transition back into her career field much easier.
“One of the reasons I wanted to do this was to bring the flying perspective to this position, to be able to say ‘hey I’ve been there and I’m continuing to be there’ to have empathy for their situation as a fellow flyer and so far I have been able to do that and look forward to the future,” she said.
Since the conversation in January 2020 until present date there have been 12 flyers who have taken the step out of their career fields, while keeping their qualifications during their time away.
“This is a return on investment for the Air Force,” said Dennis. “We’re giving those folks an opportunity to temporarily leave the career field to gain experience and knowledge.”
Editor’s note: Last names have been removed from publication in this story in accordance with 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing policy.