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Maintaining, balancing your 'Reserve Triad'

Col. James Van Housen speaks to a group of more than 120 Airmen March 6 after accepting the command of the 302nd Maintenance Group during an assumption of command ceremony at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Colonel Van Housen assumed command of the group after Col. Mark Rodriguez departed the 302nd MXG to become the maintenance liaison officer for 10th Air Force, based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jenni Deylius)

Col. James Van Housen speaks to a group of more than 120 Airmen March 6 after accepting the command of the 302nd Maintenance Group during an assumption of command ceremony at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Colonel Van Housen assumed command of the group after Col. Mark Rodriguez departed the 302nd MXG to become the maintenance liaison officer for 10th Air Force, based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jenni Deylius)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- How do you do it? How do you balance your family, civilian job, Reserve career and school priorities?

It's not always easy and there are often tough decisions to make. My previous assignment was as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee. My family and my civilian job were in Illinois while my Air Force Reserve position was in Oklahoma. Juggling the three of them was difficult. As an IMA, I found the only way to stay current was to put in extra time. But that meant more time away from my family and civilian job.

Deciding between different priorities in our lives involves sacrifices, compromises and a lot of understanding. One of the best ways to make it easier is to involve your family and employers, both civilian and Reserve, in the discussion about how best to prioritize. Be open with everyone about all your commitments and be flexible. Also, discuss your priorities. Don't expect today's priorities to be the same as tomorrows. You'll have to keep discussing it with your family and supervisors over time. An open discussion helps create understanding and support.

But the burden of communication doesn't lie solely with you. The Air Force and the AF Reserve both recognize the importance of family and your civilian career. One of the Air Force's five priorities is Develop and care for Airmen and their families. The Air Force Reserve supports this through one of four priorities: Preserve the Viability of the Reserve Triad. The "Reserve Triad" is made up of you the Reservist, your family and your full-time civilian employer or school.

One of the biggest ways the AF Reserve wants to preserve this Triad is to foster communications with our Reservists, their families and their employers. Your Reserve supervisor should be providing you with their expectations of you, as well as helping you develop a series of goals for job and career progression.

We need to educate your families so they have an idea of what you do when you are on Reserve duty. To assist in this education, family members are invited to the Wing's annual Family Day event on Aug. 7. Family members will get the chance to see what you do in your Reserve job. It also allows them to interact with other Reservists and family members.

We must also keep your civilian employers up to date with current and upcoming requirements that may require your participation. To help your employer develop a better understanding of our mission, the Wing sponsors an annual Employer Appreciation Day, this year being held on July 9. If you didn't get a chance to nominate your employer for this up close look at our wing, I encourage you to take the time next year and invite them out. ESGR, the Employer Support of Guard and Reserve organization, serves as a liaison between the Reservist and their employer to help explain the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or "USERRA," which contains the rights and responsibilities of both the Reservist and the civilian employer, especially during times of deployments.

The bottom line is we all have a responsibility to help you find the proper balance between your family, your civilian career or education and your Reserve career.