ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. —Being active duty in the military provides a person the opportunity to give back to their community and better themselves. It is a 24/7 job that involves a lot of attention and time, so what happens when someone can no longer sacrifice that time but still wants to serve their country?
For U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brandy Venson, in-service reserve recruiter assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing, that hypothetical became a reality when she became a mother.
Although she loved the Air Force, Venson’s first child was having developmental issues and she could not juggle both active duty life and getting treatment for her son. She initially chose to separate, but the U.S. Air Force Reserve gave her the ability to stay in the military.
“I ended up having to go through the in-service recruiter as I was separating,” said Venson. “He and I spoke a little bit more and he brought up some more concerns like medical coverage, which was a big deal as we were trying to figure out what was going on with my son. I ended up going into the U.S. Air Force Reserves just to bridge the gap between active duty and getting out completely and I’ve been in ever since.”
Venson has spent eight years in the reserves adding up to 16 total years of service. In addition to growing her career, she has also grown her family. Venson now has three children and has a baby on the way.
“The reserves are a completely different world from what I experienced on active duty,” said Venson. “I don’t think people understand the amount of control you have over your life when you’re in the reserves.”
Unlike active duty recruiters, reserve recruiters are picked on a volunteer basis. Then they go through boards and supervisors to be selected for the position.
“It’s something you have to apply for,” said Venson. “You submit a package and it goes against a board. The board reviews it and then decides if they want to take you in as a recruiter. Then you go to an in-person interview as well, where they fly you out to the reserve recruiting headquarters and you sit there for three to five days and they let you know the good, bad and ugly of recruiting to see if you can handle it and if you make it through that they give you a class date. For us, it’s far more competitive.”
Venson started by recruiting civilians but eventually made the move to work in-service, bringing people from active duty to the reserves.
“Personally there’s no preference on who I’m recruiting,” said Venson. “There’s such a huge impact on both ends. I don’t think people who are leaving active duty don’t realize the effect the reserve can have on their civilian lives. On the civilian side, you either have younger kids out of high school, or people in the thirty-year range who have always wanted to do it but something in their life has kept them from being able to join. I think it’s equally rewarding on both ends to see the outcome after they’ve gone through the transition.”
Venson feels like her skills from her career in the medical field carry over to her recruiting.
“There are many similarities,” said Venson. “Most of my medical career has been taking care of people, this is still taking care of people just in a different way.”
Venson compares life on active-duty and life in the reserves with just one word.
“Flexibility. The ability to do what you want with your life 28 days out of the month and still serve your country one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year.”
The reserve gives Airmen the opportunity to progress their civilian lives while also contributing to the Air Force mission and becoming better Airmen.
If you are interested in the reserves as a civilian or prior service military member you can contact Master Sgt. Venson at 405-409-5170 for more information.