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Chief Master Sgt. Ericka Kelly.


Q: What is your most meaningful Air Force assignment so far and why?

A: My current assignment as the command chief of Air Force Reserve Command is my most meaningful assignment so far. I say that because this assignment has given me the opportunity to serve our command on a variety of platforms and has opened unexpected doors for me to represent our heritage and highlight who we are as a force. I have been able to share our message with so many audiences. I have had the opportunity to talk about enlisted issues with our young enlisted Airmen, with our officers and with joint audiences.

At the same time, I am proud of the foundation I had as a medic and later in operations in my previous assignments. These assignments gave me the opportunity to learn from two very different communities. I had great leadership and mentors who helped develop me, and I know without them I wouldn't have been as successful in my career.

Q: Who are some people you rely on for support?

A: None of us would be as successful as we are without a strong team standing behind us cheering us on. We come to work and put on our uniform each day, but most of us have family and friends behind the scenes who are making sure everything else is getting done.

For me, my brother is a huge part of my support system. He has his own set of unique circumstances, but he has never viewed those as limits. Instead, he has been my rock. He is the full-time caretaker for our mother, and I know that with him at home I don't have to worry. This job has placed a lot of demands on me in terms of travel and long hours in the office. My brother has kept everything at home working smoothly. I know things are good because he is there, and I am very thankful for that.

Q: What can you tell us about your family?

A: I have two sons: Paul, who is 20; and Sean, who is 17. They are a huge part of my success, just like my brother. They have been incredibly supportive of me serving in the Air Force Reserve and take pride that our family is serving this nation. The Reserve has become their family, too. Recently, Sean graduated from high school in California, and I couldn't make it. But members from Team March (Air Reserve Base) were there to cheer him on. It is this type of team effort that makes me value the support from my children and my Reserve family.

Q: Why did you join the Air Force Reserve?

A: My story is complicated. When I joined the Air Force Reserve, I was in a dysfunctional and abusive marriage. I always wanted to join the military, but I assumed that by the time I was 21 it was too late. Luckily, one day I saw a commercial for the Air Force Reserve. Because my marriage was so dysfunctional, I had to ask permission to join. Luckily I got it, and I have been a Reservist ever since.

I can honestly say the Air Force Reserve saved my life. It gave me the strength and courage to leave a destructive situation that was escalating. I saw service as an opportunity to grow as an individual and serve a greater purpose. The Reserve opened doors I never could have imagined back then, and I am thankful every day that I made the choice to serve.

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Title Annotation:Chiefs View
Publication:Citizen Airman
Article Type:Interview
Date:Oct 1, 2016
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