Yoshi Nakamura, 374th Force Support Squadron outdoor recreation tour guide, left, and a Naguri Canoe Atelier member give a safety briefing to Yokota Air Base members before canoeing near the Arima Dam, Saitama Prefecture, Japan, Oct. 14, 2017. They showed personnel the basics of how to properly use a canoe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka)
Yoshi Nakamura, 374th Force Support Squadron outdoor recreation tour guide, left, and a Naguri Canoe Atelier member give a safety briefing to Yokota Air Base members before canoeing near the Arima Dam, Saitama Prefecture, Japan, Oct. 14, 2017. They showed personnel the basics of how to properly use a canoe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka)

Supporting warfighters: Two workforces come together with one mission in mind

by Debbie Aragon
U.S. Air Force

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) --  Child care, golf, bowling, community center, lodging operations and outdoor recreation. These operations, and many more, are designed to support the morale, welfare and recreation of Airmen and their families and rely heavily on one thing to make them tick … nonappropriated fund, or NAF, employees.

Although paid by a different funding source than general schedule, or GS, civilian employees, NAF employees “are committed to the same thing as their GS counterparts – delivering capabilities to generate combat-ready and resilient warfighters,” said Mike Hildebrandt, Air Force Services Activity human resources program management branch chief.

Currently, there are more than 20,000 NAF employees around the globe doing things like caring for children and youth, conducting art classes, managing outdoor recreation programs, preparing healthy meals and helping people achieve a pilot’s license or repair their cars.

All of these efforts play a vital role in building resiliency, unit cohesion and readiness in our Air Force, said Col. Donna Turner, AFSVA commander.

Brian Roush, AFSVA human resources and benefits division chief, began his career as a NAF employee in 1984 at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, as a busboy and general purpose clerk working Sunday brunch at the officers’ club.

“Little did I realize then that my part-time job in high school for gas and fun money would be the start of a 30 plus year career as an Air Force civilian,” Roush said. “By being open to new opportunities and challenges, having great mentors and bosses, access to education and tuition assistance programs and, honestly, a lot of hard work and long hours, I progressed.”

NAF positions, like those filled by Roush along his journey, offer opportunity, employment and careers for spouses, other family members and the local community, Roush explained.

“Through installation morale, welfare and recreation facilities, NAF employees deliver service programs and activities to build and sustain Airmen and their families,” Hildebrandt said. “It’s one way Airmen know that their families are well taken care of as they complete their mission at home station or while deployed.”

“NAF employees are part of the overall team that delivers the mission of the Air Force and brings the importance of that mission home to the community,” Roush said.

“After a snowstorm hits and the base needs to return to normal operations, what are the first places to re-open, if they ever closed?” Roush asked, “The child development center, lodging, restaurants and snack bars.”

“Our NAF employees are right there, on installations, as part of the core of our Air Force family community,” Roush added.

“NAF employees are a force multiplier and backbone of our installation MWR activities. Without them, the mission and resiliency opportunities we provide to our service members and their families would not be possible,” said Turner. “They are a vital part of our Air Force mission and we appreciate their dedication and commitment to taking care of Airmen and families each and every day.”

To find out more about NAF careers for you or your family members, visit the NAF careers page at https://www.nafjobs.org/default.aspx.

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