How you can help tell Keesler, Air Force story

  • Published
  • By Susan Griggs
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
You may not realize it, but you're the most effective person to champion the Air Force story.

Public affairs teams around the globe devote considerable time, energy and resources to promote the Air Force and its mission. But the Air Force's public image is often shaped and bolstered by personal encounters at the local level.

Not long ago, I conducted a base tour for a group of high school leaders, many of whom had never set foot on a military base. Staff Sgt. Matthew Hooke, 334th Training Squadron, and Senior Airman Justin Ireland, 81st Medical Operations Squadron, were guides for the group. Hooke did a lot more than show the students around the air traffic control training area, and Ireland went beyond leading the group through the endless halls of Keesler Hospital.

These two Airmen engaged the students with conversations not only about their jobs and the Air Force mission, but directed questions to the teenagers about what kind of careers they'd like to pursue and offered personal insights about the challenges and benefits of military service. There's no doubt that they left a positive impression about the Air Force with these young people.

More recently, I gave a tour to a man from Alabama who went through basic training at Keesler in 1943 and a woman from South Carolina who served as an Airman in Bryan Hall 47 years ago. As we stopped at Bryan Hall and 81st Training Wing headquarters, military members and civilians stopped and greeted these visitors, asking them about their time at Keesler and thanking them for their past service. These two veterans were deeply touched by the recognition.

Our public affairs team relies on many people across the base to bring Keesler's story to the public. We're constantly looking for volunteers -- when people move on, we need others who are willing to take their places. Maybe one of these volunteer opportunities is right for you:

· When base tours are conducted, representatives are needed across the base to tell their unit's story for visiting civic, military, retiree and student groups.

· Our office often fields requests for speakers from civic groups and schools. The speaker's bureau is a public service and information tool comprised of military and civilian Air Force employees from a variety of experiences and backgrounds who share their knowledge about Air Force history, aviation, computer operations, communication skills, health, military life, military law, combat experience, financial management, child development and many other subjects.

· We need more mission briefers to present prepared comments to accompany slide presentations about Keesler and its mission at various meetings and events.

· And if you're blessed with a beautiful voice, we're always looking for National Anthem singers. Few things touch the hearts of people in our community more than an Airman in service dress sharing a vocal tribute at an event.

One final thought -- whether you're in uniform changing a tire for a stranded motorist, wearing your squadron T-shirt at your child's T-ball game or displaying an Air Force emblem on your vehicle, you're an Air Force ambassador.

To get involved in Keesler's public affairs outreach programs, call 228-377-1179.