Military, civil service career is a team sport!

  • Published
  • By Ms. Stephanie Williams
  • 301st Fighter Wing Process Manager

When I put my uniform on for the last time in December 2019 at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., I had mixed feelings. I was proud of my more than 28 years of service but I was also a little sad that I was no longer going to serve in uniform. It was a Friday and I wore my daughter’s U.S. Air Force cadet red squadron shirt. The shirt’s color also happened to be the same as our “Friday colors” at the 940th Air Refueling Wing, so that made it even more memorable. I was fortunate I still had the opportunity to continue in the civil service field for an Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) wing as a process manager. I was very excited about that opportunity, particularly because my spouse, Brett, is also a member of the career civil service within the same organization. Service, both military and civilian, is definitely a team sport!

During my 28+ year military career, I was able to serve in all three components of the greatest Air Force in the world, with the world’s greatest Airmen. Brett and I met while stationed in Japan on my first operational C-130 flying assignment. We enjoyed living and seeing the sights in Japan and then moved back stateside to Little Rock AFB, Ark. where our first daughter, now-Cadet 3rd Class Nicole, was born.  Her arrival changed our lives and we began the transition to civilian-Reserve Component life. During that transition period, still flying as a pilot with a small child, I relied on some very important teammates in order to be able to serve as a formal training unit instructor pilot. Nicole’s babysitters, who kept her overnight due to my crazy flying schedule, were amazing. I could not have succeeded without them!  Once Nicole and I moved to Kansas City, where Brett had a job in construction and I was hired by the Missouri Air National Guard, our team grew by including child care providers who were also amazing.  Brett, however, was the MVP—working long construction industry hours while taking care of Nicole when I was flying or deployed.

My second daughter Molly joined us while we lived in the Kansas City area during my first Active Guard Reserve (AGR) tour. The AGR program opened new opportunities to us and we walked through the door which took us to Headquarters AFRC in Middle Georgia. This move was career-changing for both Brett and myself. There he was able to join the civil service and I was able to gain valuable experience which ultimately led to amazing leadership opportunities, ultimately retiring as a flying wing commander. We both had personal and professional teams during this time who supported our development and sustained careers. 

The mentors, bosses, peers and colleagues I worked with over 28+ years were greatly influential to my service. Our extended families also helped when Air Force life became overwhelming. Most of all, it was Brett and the kids who allowed my service to be possible. Without their support, including moving three times in a three year period, none of it would have been possible. Service takes an entire team and I want to say a big thank you to all of those teammates—past and present!