Recruiting and retention Published April 14, 2008 By Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Hogan Alaska State Command Chief Master Sergeant KULIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Alaska -- Hello Enlisted Force of the Alaska Air National Guard! I'm CMSgt. Dennis Hogan, and I'd like to share a few things with you. I was raised in a working class family where the lessons taught were simple and the keys to success were hard work and honesty. I see these qualities in our Enlisted Force today. I know you've all heard it before, but I'm going to say it again: The Enlisted Force is the backbone of the military, and this is especially true of the Air National Guard. We are represented in every unit, at every level. Our enlisted people are out there day in and day out getting the job done -- and done well. I see a level of integrity that allows us to work independently. I see us stepping up to every challenge that comes our way. In these tumultuous times, I see us deploying time and time again. I see the most dedicated group of professionals with which I have ever been associated. It is a great honor and privilege for me to represent and serve you as the Alaska State Command Chief. One of my priorities will be addressing recruiting and retention issues. Times are tough across the country when it comes to recruiting and retention. In Alaska, we have the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard competing for the same recruits, and our numbers show it. Referrals are still our best recruiting tool. As members, we need to take advantage of opportunities to talk about the AKANG. Tell people what you do, the training you've received, the opportunities you've had and the places you've seen. Tell them what a big part the Guard plays in homeland defense, counterdrug and border patrol missions. Talk about our commitment to Alaska and all the humanitarian support we provide in times of need; Operation Arctic Care, for example, where we send medical caregivers to remote areas of Alaska to help people get services they wouldn't otherwise receive. Or Operation Santa Claus, a nationally recognized Alaska National Guard program that has been delivering gifts, books and clothing to the remote communities of Alaska for more than fifty years. The other side of the equation is retention. I feel very strongly about our responsibility to keep the good people we have. Supervisors and coworkers should show interest in our colleagues' military careers and their civilian lives. Ensure that they get meaningful training every time they show up for drill or active duty. I understand it takes years to fully train traditional airmen, but make the time to help them become proficient in their job and to make them contributing members of the team, giving them a sense of belonging and self-confidence. They joined the Guard because they wanted to be part of a team, so let's hone our coaching skills. Explain what it's like to deploy, how we interface with other units and how their families come into the picture. Families, of course, are vital to the success of our retention program. In the words of the smartest person I know -- my wife -- "We recruit the military member, but we retain the family." A strong unit Family Readiness Group can really help in this area. Get involved with your FRG and help get family members involved. The FRG has to be self-sufficient; it must stand alone when the military members are deployed. We have to make families feel welcome and a part of our unit if we expect their support! I cannot do this job without help, and since it is only natural for me to go the people I know best for that help, I'm coming to you. If you have enlisted issues or concerns, please share them with me. You can give me a call (Kulis 249-1192/HQ 428-6082), drop me a line (email@example.com), or better yet, drop in and see me. My door is always open.