Operation Bright Future gives educators glimpse of the Reserve

  • Published
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing public affairs

Reserve Citizen Airmen from several squadrons with the 514th Air Mobility Wing collaborated to host Operation Bright Future at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., June 8, 2019. 


Operation Bright Future is an event in which educators from the local area were invited to fly with the 514th AMW in an effort to help them understand the responsibilities, efforts, and necessity of the Air Force Reserve as well as opportunities available to prospective enlistees as part of an effort to encourage innovation and organizational reform.


“This is what we call a Center of Influence event, or COI event, to show members of the local community what we do and give them some tools to help better explain our efforts and responsibilities,” said Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth Bachman, 514th AMW senior recruiter. “The educators here today will hopefully be able to better explain the opportunities available in the Reserve, should a student be interested.”


According to the Council on Foreign Relations, less than one percent of the United States serve in the armed forces. That being the case, it is no surprise that some people are unaware of the responsibilities required by military members, or even the benefits and opportunities gained from their commitment to service.


Mr. Robert Luurtsema, Veteran coordinator on campus for Ocean County College, was one such person who was surprised by the extent of a typical Air Force Reserve operation.


“I was very surprised and very overwhelmed by this event,” said Luurtsema. “I had no idea what boom operators or crew chiefs were and what daily operations for refueling aircraft such as the KC-10 looked like.”


It was not just operations that surprised the educators participating in Operation Bright Future. Christina Moyer, director of career development and civic engagement at Lehigh Carbon Community College, was surprised to find out about the vast opportunities and benefits available to Air Force Reservists. 


“Watching them do a medical simulation on this flight was exciting because we have hundreds of students that want to get into the medical profession,” said Moyer. “This would be a wonderful opportunity for them to enlist in the reserve, while going to college, and still get the medical training that they desire.”


Luurtsema agreed that much of what he saw today could benefit his students.


“Hopefully what I can take back to the students at my college is that the Air Force Reserve can offer guidance, mentorship, and opportunities to realize and achieve your passions,” said Luurstema.


1st Lieutenant Katie Rettinger, 78th Air Refueling Squadron KC-10 Extender pilot, explained her thoughts on the importance of Operation Bright Future.


“When interacting with some of the teachers, some of them told me they teach in areas where students may not have as many opportunities or ambitions for their future,” said Rettinger. “After flying with us and listening to us, they think the Reserve may be a really good option that could help their students stay on their feet, or in some cases, get back on their feet.” 


While this is the first year the 514th AMW hosted Operation Bright Future, participants of the event are excited for the possibility to attend the program in the future.


“I believe this should be a continuing program because the military is such a close-knit community” said Luurtsema. “A program like this is very hands-on and enlightening. I hope to see it again in the future.”