Sound of Freedom - March / April 2021

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MARCH/APRIL 2021

Plane LOVE Teen is Luke’s honorary pilot for a day

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER

Nonprofit pairs rescues with veterans

Sean and Bree Shields Sound of Freedom is published bimonthly by Times Media Group, a private publishing company. Times Media Group is in no way affiliated with Luke Air Force Base or the United States Air Force.


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Contents

MARCH/APRIL 2021 Publisher Steve T. Strickbine Vice President Michael Hiatt Associate Group Publisher Laura Meehan, 623-777-1042 lmeehan@star-times.com MARCH/APRIL 2021

Executive Editor Christina Fuoco-Karasinski 480-898-5631 christina@star-times.com

Plane LOVE Teen is Luke’s honorary pilot for a day

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER

Nonprofit pairs rescues with veterans

Staff Photographer Pablo Robles

Sean and Bree Shields Sound of Freedom is published bimonthly by Times Media Group, a private publishing company. Times Media Group is in no way affiliated with Luke Air Force Base or the United States Air Force.

ON THE COVER

26

Liam Marshall with a Luke Air Force Base airman.

Contributors Caleb Butler, Amber Carter, Nestor Cruz, John Heckenlaible, Tony Johns, Cierra Luna, Leala Marquez, Brooke Moeder, Bill Quehm, Franklin R. Ramos, Lauren Serrato, Dominic Tyler, Louis Vega Graphic Design Veronica Thurman vthurman@timespublications.com Production Manager Courtney Oldham production@timespublications.com

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10 Best Friends Forever Nonprofit pairs rescues with veterans to become service dogs 17 Plane Love Mesa teen is Luke honorary fighter pilot for the day 19 A Labor of Love Lori Norris helps veterans transition through podcast

36 From Virtual to Reality F-35A and B-2 conduct a joint training mission 38 Igniting Knowledge Thunderbird Spark Cell leads to airmen innovation 40 Spousal Support Program is the ‘key’ to providing families with critical support

22 Putting the Best Foot Forward Tips for a military transition resume

42 A Path to a Big Future The Microsoft Datacenter Academy is here to help

26 Always There to Help Bill Kelleher retires from Glendale military committee

43 Keeping Smiles Bright Midwestern University hosts free dental day for veterans

29 Intentional and Strategic Wife calls caring for her husband a ‘rebirth’

45 Healing Memories Zoom workshop geared toward women veterans

32 Training the World’s Greatest Pilots 62nd FS airmen and maintainers prepare for Red Flag 35 Little Plane, Big Story The Stearman shares a history with Falcon Field

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Sound of Freedom | MARCH/APRIL 2021

46 Making the Rounds Sen. Mark Kelly tours military installations

Advertising Representatives Barbara Duran, 623-847-4608 bduran@star-times.com Connie Williams, 623-847-4601 cwilliams@star-times.com Circulation

Sound of Freedom is distributed by AZ Integrated Media, a circulation service company owned by Times Media Group. The public is permitted one copy per reader. For further information regarding the circulation of this publication or others in the Times Media Group family of publications, please contact AZ Integrated Media at circ@azintegratedmedia.com or 480-898-5641. For circulation services please contact Aaron Kolodny at aaron@azintegratedmedia.com

Sound of Freedom sets high standards to ensure forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable manner. This issue was printed on recycled fibers containing 10% post consumer waste, and with inks containing a blend of soy base. Our printer is a certified member of the Forestry Stewardship Council, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and additionally meets or exceeds all federal Resource Conservation Recovery Act standards.

Statements, opinions, and points of view express written consent by the writers and advertisers and are their own, and do not necessarily represent those of the publishers, editors, or Sound of Freedom staff. Although Sound of Freedom has made every effort to authenticate all claims and guarantee offers by advertisers in the magazine, we cannot assume liability for any products or services advertised herein. No part of Sound of Freedom can be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the express written consent of the publisher. The publisher reserves the right to accept or reject any editorial or advertising matter at any time.

Postmaster: Please return all undeliverable copies to Sound of Freedom, 1620 W. Fountainhead Parkway, Suite 219, Tempe, AZ 85282. All rights reserved. ®2021 Affluent Publishing LLC. Printed in the USA.



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F E AT U R E

Best Friends

Forever

Nonprofit pairs rescues with veterans to become service dogs BY CIERRA LUNA Special to Cronkite News

Army Staff Sgt. Terry Stallings and service dog Koda are among nearly 300 dog-veteran teams who have graduated from Soldier’s Best Friend training program. (Photo courtesy of Debbie Stallings)

Koda is an Anatolian shepherd, weighing over 100 pounds. Army Staff Sgt. Terry Stallings says Koda takes his service-dog job seriously, but when he is able to play and relax, he does. (Photo courtesy of Debbie Stallings)

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Sound of Freedom | MARCH/APRIL 2021

S

taff Sgt. Terry Stallings served in the U.S. Army for 23 years. He was stationed across the globe, including posts in Iraq, Kuwait, Mexico, Central America, Alaska, Portugal and Germany. After six combat deployments overseas, he returned home and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans often rely on medications, therapy, sports and other treatment options for PTSD relief. Stallings looked toward companionship. “He’s basically my battle buddy,” Stallings says. “Wherever I go, he follows me. If I’m laying down, he lays down at the foot of our bed. If I’m in the living room, he lays down next to my chair. He’s always ready to help me.” “He” is Stallings’ service dog, a 135-pound Anatolian shepherd named Koda. “Koda’s learned when I’m having nightmares, he’ll come up and he’ll comfort me,” Stallings says. “He’ll put his wet, cold nose on me at night when I’m sleeping and wake me up because he knows I’m having a bad dream or an episode or something like that. “So he’s always there.” Stallings and his wife, Debbie, picked up two Anatolian brothers with the intention of eventually training one or both as service dogs. “I thought it’d be nice to have one. We actually weren’t even sure what a service dog would do for us,” Stallings says, “but we decided to look around and do some research.” The Mesa residents turned to Soldier’s Best Friend, an Arizona nonprofit that trains dogs to work with veterans with PTSD — or a combat-related traumatic brain injury — as service dogs. The organization either pairs the veteran with a dog adopted from a local shelter, or they train a dog already owned by the veteran. “One thing we did notice was everywhere we looked and all the inSEE BEST FRIEND PAGE 13


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F E AT U R E BEST FRIEND FROM PAGE 10 quiries that we did, everything was leading us towards Soldier’s Best Friend as being the best (organization) out of all of them,” Stallings says. Soldier’s Best Friend has been a nonprofit since 2001. Its program comes at no cost to the veteran. It has nearly 40 contributors — including volunteers and organizations — and is entirely funded through donations, grants and fundraisers. “We go in, and we give back,” Stallings says. “Because it’s a nonprofit, they have to do fundraisers and stuff. And because (Koda’s) so welltrained, we don’t have a problem going out and helping or being the poster dog.” Soldier’s Best Friend has helped hundreds of veterans, with nearly 300 dog-veteran teams that have graduated, according to its website. The group has five locations: Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott, Sierra Vista and Flagstaff. Its staff is made up of war veterans, practicing PTSD therapists, professional service dog trainers, veterinarians and nonprofit professionals. Adoption and placement Not all dogs at Soldier’s Best Friend start out like Koda, already belonging to the veteran; many come from local shelters around the Valley. Sarah Eccleton, the organization’s dog adoption and placement coordinator, has been working with dogs since she was a child. “I actually would go and watch my mom do dog training classes, and by age 6, I was done watching,” she says. “We’ve got pictures of me, 6 years old with my first toy poodle, training it.” Eccleton says because of her closeness with breeders, competing and training her own dogs, and understanding ATC (“authority to compete,” referring to the guidelines to compete in the international dog show Crufts), she was prepared to deal with dogs of every personality type. “I did a lot of behavioral training at a boarding facility that took all the reject (puppies) with temperament issues from everybody,” Eccleton says. “So that’s where I learned a lot of aggression and behavior training. That’s what made me a candidate for this position.” Her current job is to understand the veteran’s lifestyle and needs and pair them with a dog to complete the training program at Soldier’s Best Friend. “I get an understanding of what they’re capable of training and working with, how active they are, how much grooming they’re willing to do, what needs they have for their TBI (traumatic brain injury) or PTSD,” Eccleton says. After her conversation with the veteran, she reaches out to shelters and describes what sort of dog she wants. Eccleton says she relies heavily on the kennel aides at shelters to help with the pairing process. “They are hands-on with all their dogs, so they have a better insight of, ‘Well, I think this will fit,’” Eccleton says. Shelters provide five to 10 dogs for Eccleton. “I evaluate them for temperament, good with people, good with dogs, good with other animals, trainability and if they’re food or toy motivated,” Eccleton says. Soldier’s Best Friend uses B.A.R.C. — Behavior Assessment Reactivity Checklist — to evaluate a dog’s interactions with humans and their SEE BEST FRIEND PAGE 14 MARCH/APRIL 2021 |

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F E AT U R E BEST FRIEND FROM PAGE 13 reactions to such things as people in public or sounds. The nonprofit has rescued more than 165 dogs, according to its website. The adopted pup moves into the foster period, which typically takes a few weeks to a month. The adopted dog is fostered by volunteers, and they work with a trainer from Soldier’s Best Friend to break some of their shelter habits, teach them basic skills and prepare them to enter into the training program alongside their veteran. “That’s one of the requirements at Soldier’s Best Friend,” Stallings says. “If (Soldier’s Best Friend) provides a dog … they require that the dog has a certain amount of skills already trained in him so that they can see if the dog is trainable.” Whether a dog goes through the adoption process or is brought in by a veteran, the dog must know how to perform basic commands, Stallings says. If the dog can sit, shake and/ or lay down, staff members know the dog is teachable. All dogs are spayed, neutered and vaccinated, and they have received all recommended preventative medications before placement, according to the organization’s website. Veterans who are paired with rescue dogs will not be charged for veterinary services and most supplies during the training process, the organization says, and veterans who own dogs will get veterinary services at a reduced rate during training. Training Each veteran and dog go through a six- to nine-month training program. The program’s teaching is aligned with the Canine Good Citizen training — a 10-skill program that teaches dogs the basics of manners and obedience — and requires a minimum of three personal service tasks. The veteran also is given a written test that covers proper care and training techniques for their dogs. Allison Walker, a lead trainer at the nonprofit, says they focus on training the veterans — the handler — how to train the dog themselves. “Every trainer is assigned teams, and the teams do one group lesson and one individual lesson every week,” Walker says. “Every trainer is taking their teams through, from day one through graduation.” The primary focus of Soldier’s Best Friend is

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Army Staff Sgt. Terry Stallings said he and Koda attend Soldiers Best Friend’s charity events and fundraisers because they like to give back to the organization that gave to them. He said the trainers have even become lifelong friends. (Photo courtesy of Debbie Stallings)

to train the dogs to be service animals, but the program is equally as rigorous for the veterans. Because of their PTSD symptoms, everyday tasks such as going to a store or attending a crowded event can become nearly impossible for some. “We tell them that this program is going to push their boundaries and test their limits,” Walker says, “because although we don’t want to overwhelm anyone, we want them when they are in the real world to know how to respond to things.” Stallings says the training program changed his mind about repetitiveness and perseverance. Because of his military background, he liked to give a command and see it performed right away. He also was quick to get frustrated and react. “There’s a saying in the program: It only takes a couple of weeks to train a dog; it takes six to nine months to train the veteran,” Stallings says. “The dog will usually get it before the veteran gets it. You learn patience really quick, which is a skill that when you go back into the civilian world, it’s really hard to have patience.” Anatolian shepherds, like Koda, are livestock

Sound of Freedom | MARCH/APRIL 2021

guard dogs and trackers — dogs that can detect, recognize and follow a scent. Stallings says this trait is most beneficial for him when he’s in crowded places and begins to feel anxious. “If I’m looking in one aisle and she’s in another, and I kind of feel like I’m getting amped up — my PTSD or whatever — and I need to get back to my wife, I can tell Koda, ‘Find Mom.’ And what he’ll do is he’ll immediately go into track mode, and he’ll take me back to her,” Stallings says. The change The nonprofit’s main goal is to train each dog to fit the veterans’ unique and specific needs. “Every dog is a little bit different, and every veteran needs something different from their dog,” Walker says. “We do a lot of talking and deciding what tasks the veteran is going to teach the dog because the task work is so personal.” Koda has graduated from service dog training, but he and Stallings now attend advanced training classes at the nonprofit. The tasks mastered at this training level have


F E AT U R E made Stallings feel more at ease. Koda is his second set of eyes. “I’ve always worried about people being behind me where I can’t see,” Stallings says, “so I taught him to watch my back. “He would sit on my right side and look behind me. He’ll actually nudge me, letting me know there are people behind me that he can see them and it’s OK.” Koda is there to lend a helping paw when Stallings needs help up. “If I was sitting on the floor or sitting in a chair and I needed him,” Stallings says, “he’ll come to me and I’ll tell him to brace, and then he locks his front legs up. Between his shoulder blades, I can apply all my body weight on him and stand up basically like a cane.” Koda also “has learned to turn on light switches, to open up all the doors in the house and close them,” Stallings says. At the beginning of the program, however, Stallings was skeptical. “I know when we first started it, I was like, ‘There’s no way this is going to work,’” he says. He could tell that Koda did not understand why he was training or going through such repetitive motions, but it didn’t take long to

Walker says she began at Soldier’s Best Friend with the intention of learning to train and educate, but seeing the difference a service dog can make on a veteran is the most rewarding part. “Being able to help veterans achieve that sense of independence again,” Walker says, “especially helping them communicate with their dogs more effectively and connect with their dogs … because they do come to trust each other.” Stallings says Koda’s brother Kacey has been able to pick up on some of the skills Koda has learned. But they still get to spend their time together playing and being normal pets. “One of the things I noticed a lot is when he’s not suited up, he’s just a dog,” Stallings says. “I watch him play in the backyard, and when the mailman comes … he’s barking out of the window, ‘I see you, I see you,’ but as soon as I put the vest on him, it’s like flipping a light switch. It’s like, ‘OK, I’m working now.’” Stallings says Soldier’s Best Friend only strengthened the bond between him and Koda, and now they’re more than just pet and owner. “He acts like he has a purpose,” Stallings says.

see a change in himself and his dog. “All of a sudden, the light would kick on and he’d understand,” Stallings says. “It’s kind of cool to see him get it. It’s almost like he’s smiling, he’s figured it out. ‘I know why I’m doing this.’” Walker says she, too, can see a dog’s mentality change throughout the training. “One day they come in, and they realize they are no longer just a pet,” Walker says. But the veterans also go through a big change as well. “They see all of a sudden how their life is opened up,” Walker says, “because they have a service dog, and they see now that they are going to be able to do things that they thought they never would be able to do again.” Eccleton compares the veterans to the newly adopted dogs: timid and anxious when they first enter the program. “When you’re working with a fearful dog, you’ve got to have them be exposed to that fear, right? Because you can’t conquer the fear if you just avoid it,” she says. “Once you conquer it and then you see, ‘OK, I survived that,’ that’s a reward in itself, so I think that’s the same kind of therapeutic effect for our veterans.”

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F E AT U R E

Liam Marshall, a 13-year-old autistic boy from Mesa, is obsessed with the U.S. Air Force. He was recently a pilot for a day at Luke Air Force Base, thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Plane

LOVE Mesa teen is Luke honorary fighter pilot for a day BY CHRISTINA FUOCO-KARASINSKI

L

iam Marshall is obsessed with the Air Force, particularly its airplanes. The autistic 13-year-old Mesa boy watches videos about the Air Force and plays flight simulator games on

his tablet. His seizure helmet is covered with patches given to him by pilots. His favorite movies are “Top Gun,” “Pearl Harbor,” “Midway” and “Air Force One.” “He watches these whole movies because he likes to see all the planes in them,” says his mother, Megan Marshall. “He’s learning about history while he’s watching movies and seeing the different types of fighter jets and planes. “He goes through phases of things that he’s

interested in, and most of them are really difficult. This has been a really easy, fun one.” So, when the Make-a-Wish Foundation loosened its rules for wishes, Megan inquired about doing something for Liam. Recently, the Marshalls, along with Megan’s boyfriend, Dave Bashaw, visited Luke Air Force Base in the West Valley so the teen could be a pilot for a day. One of the sergeants, SSgt. Alex Kim, coordinated the efforts, as she is a Make-a-Wish volunteer. The family met the squadron in a briefing room, and Lt. Col. Thomas Hayes, 61st Fighter Squadron commander, designated Liam an honorary fighter pilot for a day. Liam was presented with a real flight suit tailored especially for him. He also received a framed, autographed photo of the squadron, reserved for pilots who complete the program. They then took the group to see two F-35 planes, one of which carried Liam’s name for a day.

“Liam got to inspect the plane and then they let us drive out on a closed runway,” Megan says. “Then, they let him get out and watch the plane take off. “We had a pizza party, and the other pilots came in to show us their G-suits and their helmets. It was such a major day. He literally wears his flight suit every single day. I tell him, ‘You have to let me wash it.’” Obsessions Liam was born with 16p11.2 duplication, which causes low weight; small head size (microcephaly); and developmental delay, especially in speech and language. At 4 months old, he was diagnosed with autism. He’s also prone to seizures and has cerebral palsy. “The seizures have been the worst, and that’s been the hardest thing to deal with,” Megan says. “We’ve had emergency room visits in the past couple of months from him falling and MARCH/APRIL 2021 |

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F E AT U R E hurting himself from the seizures.” He attends Lauren’s Institute for Education in Gilbert via virtual learning to keep him safe. “His seizures are triggered by startles, mostly,” Megan says. “So, when you’re in a roomful of kids and you’re getting bumped into, he’ll be having seizures all day long. They’ve extended the virtual learning for medically complicated kids. He qualifies for that.” Because of his autism, Liam becomes easily obsessed, according to Megan. He has read up on street lamps, fire alarms and palm trees. “I would buy him landscaping books and he could tell you the Latin name for this species or that species,” she says. “He watches a lot of videos on YouTube or documentaries. That’s what he does now with planes.” Liam fell in love with them when a family friend invited him to see airplanes at Mesa Gateway Airport. “It would be 110 degrees and we’d be out there standing, feeling and hearing the jet blast when the planes would turn,” Megan says. “But he loved meeting the pilots, and that’s been his thing all summer and it’s still going strong.”

Liam Marshall made the rounds of Luke Air Force Base, including meeting and greeting the airmen and learning about their every day tools.

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F E AT U R E

A LABOR of

LOVE

Lori Norris helps vets transition through her podcast BY CHRISTINA FUOCO-KARASINSKI

L

ori Norris did not serve time in the military, but she wants to do everyLori Norris says her podcast “Lessons thing she can to help veterans. Learned for Vets” is geared toward She does this through her podhelping military members rejoin civilian cast, “Lessons Learned for Vets.” Evlife. (Photo courtesy Lori Norris) ery Wednesday, her guests provide advice and guidance for those about to transition out of the Norris can’t keep herself from helping veterans, military. whom she calls the most “dedicated, selfless group “This podcast series was created to give veterans a platform to learn from mentors,” Norof people.” It’s something that comes natural to her. ris says. “By interviewing those veterans who The daughter of an Army veteran, Norris lives close to Luke Air Force Base in Glendale and found have already traveled the transition path before a love for showing folks like her father how to “turn them, we give veterans insight and information that light bulb on.” on what worked and didn’t work for them, help “I want to help veterans translate what they’ve them prepare for potential obstacles and plan for done in the military to effectively market themselves their own transition success.” in the private sector,” she says. “They don’t have to be Her goal is to give veterans and current milian aircraft mechanic if they don’t want to. They can tary members actionable ideas every week that do something else, if they wish. I don’t want them to they can use to guide their transition, no matter feel they have to keep doing what they trained for in which direction they choose to travel. Lori Norris’ father is an Army veteran the military. The world is open to them. They come Norris jokes that she’s “bilingual” — speaking and his work inspired her to start the civilian and the language of the military. She’s “Lessons Learned for Vets” podcast. out of the military with so many great skills that they can put to use in other areas.” been volunteering to help the military since (Photo courtesy Lori Norris) Norris launched her podcast, appropriately, on 2005, when she taught resume writing to Luke Veterans Day 2020. Among her guests was Herb Thompson, who wrote Air Force Base airmen. “I didn’t need a job, but I didn’t want to quit teaching,” she says. “I “The Transition Mission: A Green Beret’s Approach to Transition from taught three days of a five-day transition assistance program, or TAP. It’s Military Service.” Now a management consultant at a top-tier firm, a five-day program where, theoretically, they teach you everything you SEE PODCAST PAGE 21 need to know to leave the military.” MARCH/APRIL 2021 |

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F E AT U R E PODCAST FROM PAGE 19 Thompson, Norris says, has a “great story.” “He came from nothing and said, ‘I knew I had nothing to go back to,’” Norris recalls. “He said he had to make something of himself. He became drill sergeant of the year and an Army green beret. He likens the transition to deploying to the United States. “There is nothing more difficult than deploying into the United States. They have to learn the culture of the private sector. I also interviewed a Marine Corps officer who has always been interested in finance. He started his own financial planning company and teaches people how to set themselves up financially.” Norris has also interviewed a recruiter from Northrop Grumman to get advice for veterans seeking a job and the biggest mistakes they make. “My podcast is a labor of love,” says Norris, a Cactus High School graduate. “It’s a passion project. It’s just really something I’ve always wanted to do. I have a business where I provide resume writing and LinkedIn. I’ve had veteran clients all along. “I really thought people could learn from their stories. I decided I’m going to tell their stories. Very few people have said no. My goal is to get this podcast in front of as many transitioning veterans as possible.”

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BUSINESS

Putting the Best Foot

Forward

Tips for a military transition resume BY LORI NORRIS

W

hile networking and LinkedIn are important to any job search, the resume is still a powerful tool. A resume cannot get a job, but a bad resume may stop a job search progress in its tracks. Here are some tips to refine a military transition resume.

Focus There is no such thing as a generic, effective resume; it must be clearly focused and targeted toward specific industries and roles. Do

22

Sound of Freedom | MARCH/APRIL 2021

not give the employer a complete military rundown. Instead, applicants should focus on what they do best and the skills that are most relevant to targeted employers. Make it easy to understand Resumes will not get results if the prospective employer does not understand how the experience relates to the posted job. Applicants must translate their military skills and relate their military experience to their next career. If their military career was focused on fixing airplanes and, now, they want to be in the IT field, instead of focusing on aircraft maintenance, focus on troubleshooting complex components. Job titles must also be free of military terminology and acronyms. Do not use noncommissioned officer in charge or NCOIC when “manager” can simply be used. If the job title is not relevant to the position, consider using a simple title such as team leader, manager, specialist or technician.

Applicants should focus on what they do best and the skills that are most relevant to targeted employers.

Don’t overwhelm the reader Potential employers do not want to know everything about ap-


BUSINESS

Veterans career event Career Connectors is hosting the seventh annual Veteran Business Networking and Career Event in conjunction with BestCompaniesAZ. The event brings together Arizona’s award-winning, military-friendly companies with veteran business professionals. Military-friendly employers will be there to interact with all attendees and lead a “Vet Talks” presentation, featuring stories of achievement and career success from veteran-committed employers like ADP, Deloitte, Freedom Financial Network, GoDaddy, Habitat for Humanity, Liberty Mutual, MRFG-ICON, Ring, Spear Education, USAA and Voya Financial. This free virtual event will be held 9 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, March 11, and is open to all military — active, retired, reservists — as well as their spouses and significant others. Visit militaryaz.org to register or for event details, hiring companies, open positions and career resources. plicants. They only want the relevant details. A resume should not be longer than two pages and should be focused on the posted job. It has been proven that people skim resumes for an initial impression of whether they want to read more. People prefer to read information in a bulleted format. Studies have shown that when someone skims a paragraph, they read the first and last line, but when they

skim a list of bullets, they will read the first three to five words. Front load the bullet points with measurable results to keep the reader interested. Bullet points should be concise and focused, no more than two typewritten lines. Keep the list to no more than six to seven bullet points in a row. Highlight accomplishments Employers are looking for the best return on their investment, so resumes should be a summary of what will make the prospective employee a cost-effective one. Many veterans struggle with talking about this subject because they are humble team players by nature. No one likes to brag, but veterans must confidently state the facts of how they will add value to the employer and showcase what makes them worth the salary they are hoping the employer will pay. Confidence must shine through. In any job search, confidence is equated to competence. In other words, hiring managers assume confident applicants know what they are doing. The resume is not a laundry list of former responsibilities. Instead, it is where applicants can provide examples of how they made improvements and what they achieved. Lori Norris, the owner of Get Results Career Services and host of the “Lessons Learned for Vets” podcast, has been dedicated to educating veterans in the job search process since 2005. She can be reached at lori@nextforvets.com or nextforvets.com.

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“But we are looking at ways to reduce the time it takes to do the returns and we are researching the possibility of being open on Saturdays.” However, he stressed these plans are preliminary and dependent on whether AARP Foundation officials allow the program. Training volunteers could also present a problem due to space. Last year training was conducted at one of the Recreation Centers of Sun City facilities. “Plus at this point I don’t have any idea how many of the volunteers will return if we do have a program,” Mr. Graff said. When the Tax-Aire program returns, whether it be in 2021 or the next year, res-

Other services

Sun City CAN’s other services remain available, including the water rebate for condo owners and help with electricity bills for low-income residents. Mr. Duncan said officials are in the process of applyGovernment ing for grant funds from Rates Co. Arizona Public Service Available for the electricity program. Southwest Gas, which does not have a grant application process, donated $1,000, double the company’s normal amount, for the Crisis Assistance program. Funds from that program are used for the water rebate, electricity, gas, taxi ticket and “Paint the Town,” a new program just added. “It is nice being an inde-

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BUSINESS

Vet Talks Companies come together to host job fair BY CHRISTINA FUOCO-KARASINSKI

B

estCompaniesAZ is hosting a free, virtual military veteran hiring event in partnership with Career Connectors on Thursday, March 11, for military members, veterans and their families. With the mission to connect Arizona veterans with award-winning companies, the virtual “Vet Talks: Business Networking and Career Event for Veterans” will feature more than 20 military-friendly employers who are hiring, such as GoDaddy, CarMax and Ring. Modeled after TED Talks, BestCompaniesAZ’s seventh annual the event will feature inspiring presentations called “Vet Talks” from military professionals who have transitioned into civilian life with some of Arizona’s top companies, including ADP, Axon, Farmers Insurance, Freedom Financial Network and GoDaddy. Designed to empower military members and promote military-friendly workplaces, Vet Talks will share stories of achievement and career success from veteran-committed employers and provide employment guidance, career advancement tips, and advice for transferring military skills to civilian employment. Many of the companies participating in the virtual “Vet Talks: Business Networking and Career Event for Veterans” are nationally recognized for their military-friendly company culture and veteran-committed hiring initiatives. “Military men and women are often celebrated and recruited for their leadership, team building, organizational commitment, decision-making skills and advanced technical training skills,” says Denise Gredler, founder and CEO of BestCompaniesAZ. “Our goal is to bring together top hiring companies, veteran resource groups and actively connect hundreds of qualified veterans with topnotch career opportunities.” At the virtual event, attendees will have the opportunity to virtually meet with more than 20 Arizona-based, military-friendly companies that are currently hiring, including Axon, Deloitte, Freedom Financial Network, GoDaddy, Habitat for Humanity, Liberty Mutual, Ring, Spear Education, USAA and Voya Financial. Event attendees can also set up one-on-one virtual discussions with military recruiters, hiring managers, military-committed organizations and fellow business professionals to learn more about career opportunities available, along with veteran-focused career advancement advice and employment guidance. Several veteran resource groups and military-focused community organizations will also participate in the virtual event, including Recruit Military, Heal the Hero Foundation and Birdies for the Brave. “Career Connectors is honored to provide the interactive virtual platform and facilitation for this year’s Vet Talks event,” says Jessica Pierce, CEO/founder of Career Connectors.

“This event is another example of Arizona’s commitment to helping veterans and military spouses build a great civilian career with one of Arizona’s veteran-committed employers.” The virtual “Vet Talks: Business Networking and Career Event for Veterans” will be held from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, March 11. It is free and open to the military, veteran community and their families. To register for the event and learn more about available hiring companies and job positions, visit militaryaz.org. Registration for the event is required. Companies interested in participating or sponsoring the event can contact Denise Gredler, CEO and founder of BestCompaniesAZ, to learn more about corporate participation at dgredler@bestcompaniesaz. com or call 480-545-5151. The City of Peoria is a champion of Luke Air Force Base and works hard to protect the Base to ensure their mission’s viability for years to come.

U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO

On behalf of the Mayor and Council, City management and staff, we want to say “THANK YOU” for your service and dedication to our country.

City of Peoria

MARCH/APRIL 2021 |

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F E AT U R E

Always There to

Help

Bill Kelleher retires from military committee BY CHRISTINA FUOCO-KARASINSKI

B

Bill Kelleher retired in February, after serving with the Glendale Chamber of Commerce Military & Veterans Affairs Committee for 40 years. (Photo by Pablo Robles)

26

Sound of Freedom | MARCH/APRIL 2021

ill Kelleher grew up admiring the military duties of his World War I veteran father and his brothers who served in the Vietnam War. He didn’t join the military, but he did the next best thing. He supported the families of those stationed at Luke Air Force Base through the Glendale Chamber of Commerce Military & Veterans Affairs Committee. He was on board for 40 years before retiring in February. “I was not privileged enough to be a member of any part of the armed services, but my father was a Marine during World War I,” Kelleher says. “The mustard gas basically took him at an early age. I was 15 when he passed away. I have two brothers who were also Marines. One was in Korea, and my youngest brother was in Vietnam. I fell between the cracks. Back then, you signed up for the draft. I was too young for Korea and too old for Vietnam.” Kelleher connected with veterans and military personnel because of his family’s involvement. His favorite shirt is one that bears a U.S. flag that reads, “Stand for the flag.” At the bottom is a cross that says, “Kneel at the cross.” The Military & Veterans Affairs Committee is dedicated to assisting the Glendale


F E AT U R E Chamber of Commerce with programs and events. It also helps create a strong relationship between the local business community and military units in the Valley. “We are very in touch with what the needs are out there,” Kelleher says. “It’s been a blessing to me. I sit back now and just listen. I’ve been there, done that.” The committee’s priority projects are Glendale’s military induction ceremony, military appreciation breakfast, Veterans Day ceremony, Luke Shoot Out Golf Tournament, and flag repurposing and retirement program. It supports Stand Up for Veterans, Mayor Jerry Weiers’ Big Dog Run, the Healing Garden and Traveling Vietnam Wall. Stand Up for Veterans is a collaborative, community-based effort that honors and supports veterans by providing access to employment, education and community resources to address the holistic needs of veterans and their families. Attorneys and court representatives are on hand to immediately address and help with legal issues. Employers are in attendance, some of whom can hire veterans on the spot. One of the committee’s signature causes

is Operation Warm Heart, which supports Luke Air Force Base families. “We thought it would be nice to have some sort of involvement with children or dependents whose parent is deployed someplace else, but the family still lived here,” Kelleher says. The Military & Veterans Affairs Committee hosted cookouts with hamburgers and hot dogs at Murphy Park for Luke Air Force Base families. The annual Luke Shoot Out Golf Tournament is promoted and marketed through the committee. During his tenure with the Military & Veterans Affairs Committee, Kelleher was licensed mortician and embalmer at Glendale’s Chapel of the Chimes Mortuary, from which he retired. He grew up in Illinois, but he moved to Glendale in June 1973 to help his daughter, who had breathing issues. His love for Glendale translated to volunteer work and strong relationships with the mayors. “I’ve been very fortunate over the years,” he says. “I’ve been associated with six of the mayors since I came here. We’ve been on a firstname basis. Glendale is like an old hometown

“I’ve always tried to stay involved. When I joined, I was the new kid on the block. There were these other three gentlemen and me. I thought, ‘Let’s try to get some type of partnership out at the base where we can maybe help on a monthly basis.’” In the Military & Veterans Affairs Committee’s early days — and up until the 9/11 terrorist attacked — it alternated meeting in the Glendale Chamber of Commerce conference room and Luke Air Force Base. Base commanders, and occasionally wing commanders, were affiliated with the committee. Kelleher says, from an economic standpoint, it makes sense for the chamber to be involved with Luke Air Force Base, as it’s one of Glendale’s major employers. “They’re partners with us, and we’re partners with them,” Kelleher says. “Glendale has been fantastic when it comes to the needs of former and present military.” Now was the right time for Kelleher to retire because, he says, he will soon turn 80 years old. “It’s time to get out of here and let some new kids sit here,” he says. “I’ll try to stay involved, and if there’s a need out there, I’ll help.”

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F E AT U R E

In March, Bree and Sean Shields will celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary. (Photo courtesy of Bree Shields)

Intentional and Strategic Wife calls caring for veteran husband a ‘rebirth’ BY LAUREN SERRATO

A

Buckeye couple whose marriage was once defined as carefree and “go with the flow” now live their lives intentionally and strategically. In 2013, Bree Shields became a caregiver for her husband, Sean, after he returned from his deployment in Afghanistan. In the Army, Sean was involved in multiple

firefights and a Humvee accident, resulting in PTSD, anxiety, depression, hearing loss, knee and back injuries, vision impairments, insomnia and a traumatic brain injury. Bree refers to her transition from a social worker to a full-time caregiver as a “rebirth.” “It was basically taking everything that he was prior and just erasing all that and now having to figure out what are these new limitations. But the hardest part is having to watch someone you love struggle and be in pain physically and emotionally,” she says. Prior to Sean’s deployment, Bree says their marriage and everyday lifestyle was carefree, but she now has to be very intentional with their day-to-day routine.

What used to be simple days out in public now revolve around her ability to adapt to Sean’s needs. “When we’re in public, if he’s struggling with something whether that’s his pain or if there’s a certain noise or sound that he hears, or there’s too many people, it’s just too overwhelming for his brain,” she says. As for Bree, her days vary between phone calls with the VA or attempts to find new ways of physical therapy during a pandemic. “The pandemic has definitely been like ‘Groundhog Day’ for us,” she says. “Some days felt like the same day over and over, so I have to be really diligent. I make sure we get outside for a certain amount of time per day, even if we’re just sitting in the sun.” To find a sense of community as a caregiver, Bree became involved in the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and is serving a two-year term as a caregiver fellow. As a fellow, Bree directly helps other caregivers by offering her expertise in nutrition and wellness, as well as sharing her experience to help offer advice. She organized a Veterans Day event last year that offered supplies, resources and information to more than 100 caregivers. SEE SHIELDS PAGE 31 MARCH/APRIL 2021 |

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F E AT U R E SHIELDS FROM PAGE 29

around people who completely understand what it is that you are going For Bree, she says it’s important that through,” she says. Additionally, Bree expressed the imArizona understands that it’s not only the veteran who deserves support but portance of celebrating and redefining the caregiver as well. victories, as well as finding time for re“I want people to know about a carespite as a caregiver. As a fellow for the giver’s impact, and I want our Arizona foundation, Bree is also an advocate community to know that military carefor Hidden Heroes, a respite relief progivers are a thing and how we can best gram for military and veteran caregivsupport them,” she says. ers. “They’re called ‘Hidden Heroes,’ but Initially, Bree says the stress of taking care of another person was overthis year I’m making it a goal to make whelming. them not so hidden,” Bree says. “They “At the beginning there was no space have an amazing online community to give myself. My job was keeping my that is really healthy and very purpose husband alive, first and foremost, and I driven by providing resources to emhad space for nothing else. But when I power caregivers along their journey. started to give to myself in small ways It’s important to let them know that through self-care, my care for my hus- A deployment to Afghanistan in 2013 left Sean Shields with there are resources out there and they band actually got better,” she says. don’t have to live a life that is burnt out.” multiple physical and mental injuries. His wife, Bree Shields, For more information on the For caregivers who are just start- serves as his caregiver. (Photo courtesy of Bree Shields) Elizabeth Dole Foundation, visit ing their journey, Bree says her best and that was a really heavy weight to carry. advice would be to get involved in a elizabethdolefoundation.org, and for The quicker you can get connected to a com- information on Hidden Heroes visit hiddencommunity. “I thought that I was alone on my journey, munity, the better it will be, because you’ll be heroes.org/respite.

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F E AT U R E First Lt. Steven Boger, 62nd Fighter Squadron student pilot, prepares for flight January 29 at Luke Air Force Base. Boger is part of a nine-month B-course F-35A Lightning II training class, which trains student pilots to become fully mission qualified in the F-35. The vision of the 62nd FS is to develop professional fighter pilots and leaders for the U.S. Air Force and its partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dominic Tyler)

Training the World’s Greatest Pilots 62nd FS airmen, maintainers prepare for Red Flag BY DOMINIC TYLER Airman 1st Class, 56th Fighter Wing

U

.S. and international student pilots enrolled in the F-35A Lightning II B-course are preparing for Red Flag Exercise 21-2, one of the U.S. Air Force’s largest aerial combat simulations. Three U.S. pilots and five Norwegian pilots assigned to the 62nd Fighter Squadron began B-course July 28, 2020. During the nine-month course, instructors transform the student pilots into combat-ready airmen for the F-35A Lightning II.

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“B-coursers are typically the newest students, and the F-35 is their first fighter jet,” says Capt. Alexander Young, 62nd FS F-35 instructor pilot. “With this course, these student pilots will learn and develop the habit patterns they will likely use for the rest of their careers.” By the end of the B-course, each student will be fully qualified in the F-35. Young says Red Flag offers the students exposure to simulated combat operations in a safe, controlled environment. The students will employ the tactics they have learned in

Sound of Freedom | MARCH/APRIL 2021

B-course during the training. Developed in 1975 to better prepare the Air Force for combat, Red Flag is the Air Force’s premiere air-to-air combat training exercise conducted at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. A typical Red Flag exercise fields 60 or more aircraft including fighters, bombers, reconnaissance, airlift, air refueling, and search-and-rescue aircraft from the U.S. and international partner nations. “Our class has been working toward Red Flag since we started the B-course back in August,” says 1st Lt. Tyler Dockum, 62nd FS


F E AT U R E

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Staff Sgt. Thomas Penny, left, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, and Airman 1st Class Taylor Jones, 62nd AMU assistant crew chief, perform a post-flight inspection January 29 at Luke Air Force Base. The 62nd AMU consists of 15 U.S. aircraft, seven Norwegian aircraft and three Italian aircraft. The 62nd AMU’s mission is to provide safe, reliable aircraft to the 62nd Fighter Squadron in order for them to train the world’s greatest fighter pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dominic Tyler)

F-35 B-course student pilot. “It’s awesome to see all the effort that goes into making this course happen.” Young says that though these students are working hard to prepare for Red Flag, preparing for this event would not be possible without the hard work of the maintenance team. Capt. Uddit Patel, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge, said the 62nd FS has increased sortie production in the weeks leading up to the exercise to ensure the B-course students are fully prepared for the experience, and maintainers have been working behind the scenes ensuring the aircraft are available for the pilots. “Our mission at the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit is to provide safe, reliable aircraft to our fighter squadron,” Patel says. “We have ensured the jets are in the best flying condition. Red Flag is also a great way for our maintainers to gain experience and show their skills.” During Red Flag, pilots and maintainers plan and execute a simulated major combat operation with dissimilar aircraft and an array of experienced airmen from around the world. “To have multiple different nationalities in one room executing a large force exercise together is rare to see anywhere else,” Young says. “Red Flag is a chance for our students to put what they’ve learned so far to the test and expand their depth of experience in operations with a lot of different aircraft.” He adds the 62nd FS and 62nd AMU lean on one another to achieve Luke’s mission in training the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready airmen.

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Sound of Freedom | MARCH/APRIL 2021

THE CITY OF GLENDALE THANKS THE

BRAVE MEN & WOMEN OF LUKE AFB WE SALUTE THEIR TIRELESS DEDICATION TO SERVING OUR NATION & COMMUNITY. Glendale is proud to be the home of Luke Air Force Base and its mission to train the world’s best fighter pilots!


F E AT U R E

Little Plane, Big Story The Stearman shares a history with Falcon Field BY BILL QUEHRN Airbase Arizona Museum Docent

M

any see the little yellow-winged ribbonstriped-tail biplane drifting lazily over the Valley. The U.S. Navy trainer variant of the legendary Boeing Stearman biplanes is owned by the Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona Museum at Falcon Field in Mesa. Those who have not visited the museum may not know Stearmans piloted by British Royal Air Force cadets filled the sky between 1941 and 1945. As the British fended off relentless attacks by the Nazi Luftwaffe in 1940, it became clear that finding a safe place to train RAF cadets was critical. The RAF tried places like Rhodesia, India and Canada, but weather and other obstacles demanded a better answer. Falcon Field in sunny Mesa became one of those answers. To fully report the mix of actions that led to establishing RAF, training bases in the United States would require a bookshelf full of material.

So, let’s just turn to how one landed in Mesa. It started with a business lunch in 1940 between accomplished pilots Jack Connolly and Leland Hayward. Hayward was a major film and entertainment producer and talent agent. Connolly sold airplanes and was active in the financial, aviation and entertainment worlds. Hayward wanted to discuss buying a plane from Connolly, but the subject turned then, and in future meetings, to development of airports for their proposed regional air passenger service, Southwest Airways. Congress, at the urging of Army Air Corps Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold and others, had approved a program to train pilots in the United States a year earlier but failed to provide money to build airfields. Fearing the United States would be pulled into WWII without enough trained pilots, Arnold began offering deals to attract private investors to build needed airports in partnership with the Army. Hayward and Connolly were in. In the summer of 1941, RAF Squadron Leader Stuart Mills, tasked by the RAF to identify sites in the United States for cadet training, was invited to tour a spot near Mesa by Hayward and Connolly, and he liked what he saw. However, the Americans intended to name their Southwest Airways fields Thunderbird Field

The Stearman carries more than a delighted passenger. It’s carrying a huge cargo of history waiting for guests to explore at Airbase Arizona Museum at Falcon Field in Mesa. (Submitted photo)

One, Two and Thunderbird Three in Mesa. Mills said the site was fine, but the Thunderbird name wouldn’t work for the Brits. History doesn’t explicitly identify who came up with falcon, a bird much better known to the British, as a better name. Whoever did, the Brits liked it and Thunderbird Three became Falcon Field. The first RAF cadets arrived that September. The sprawling training base quickly became the heart of tiny Mesa, providing hundreds of new job opportunities for local men and women and countless lasting international friendships. More than 2,000 RAF cadets were eventually trained at Falcon Field in Stearmans. When the war ended, the U.S. government declared Falcon Field surplus and sold it to the city of Mesa for $1. Visitors to Mesa’s Airbase Arizona Museum will hear more great stories, can browse among the 18 or so historic aircraft, and can even buy a ride on that AZCAF Stearman. Next time the little yellow-winged, ribbon-striped tail biplane flies over the Valley, keep in mind it is carrying more than a delighted passenger. It’s carrying a huge cargo of history waiting for guests to explore at Airbase Arizona Museum at Falcon Field. MARCH/APRIL 2021 |

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F E AT U R E

From Virtual

to Reality

F-35A, B-2 conduct a joint training mission

BY STAFF SGT. FRANKLIN R. RAMOS 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

T

en F-35A Lightning II fighter jets from the 63rd Fighter Squadron “Panthers” participated in a joint capstone training mission with two B-2 Spirit stealth bombers assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. The Panther Capstone, an offensive counter air attack mission, enabled F-35 and B-2 pilots to operate their aircraft in a joint combat environment against multiple advanced adversary air and surface-to-air missile threats. “This was a first-time event for Whiteman’s B-2s integrating with Luke’s F-35s,” says Lt. Col. Christopher Diller, 509th BW program manager and B-2 pilot. “As the number of F-35s increase, the understanding and interoperability between the various platforms must increase. What better way to facilitate this than at the capstone event at the F-35 schoolhouse?” The F-35 is the U.S. Air Force’s latest

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fifth-generation fighter designed to provide the pilot with unsurpassed situational awareness, positive target identification, and precision strike in all weather conditions. “The F-35 was built to be able to escort low observable (LO) assets like the B-2 into highly defended territory in order for them to be able to hold targets at risk,” says Capt. Sean Gossner, 63d FS instructor pilot and flight commander. “We finally got to practice this with real B-2s for the first time at Luke Air Force Base with the Panthers.” The 63rd FS, known colloquially as the Panthers, trains students to become F-35 pilots. They often use virtual simulations to replicate B-2s for this training, but this mission offered training for students using real-world assets instead. “Typically, we train for LO escort by using simulated assets that are not actually airborne with us, which leads to various training limitations,” Gossner says. “To be able to bring together everything with 10 F-35s and two B-2s against a robust air threat picture and surfaceto-air missile threat picture was incredible training for us.” The Panthers are a U.S.-only B-course squadron at Luke AFB, which hosts five partner nations for training. This opened the door-

Sound of Freedom | MARCH/APRIL 2021

A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 63rd Fighter Squadron takes off at Luke Air Force Base. Ten F-35s from Luke AFB participated in a joint exercise with two B-2 Spirits from Whiteman AFB, Missouri. During the exercise, F-35s pressured enemy air defenses, escorted the bombers to deter enemy aircraft, and dropped bombs to soften the target areas for the B-2s. The 63rd FS, which trains students to become F-35 pilots, usually uses simulations to conduct this training but had the opportunity to train students in a real-world environment instead. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos)

way for taking training with a B-2 from a virtual environment to reality. “We’re really the only ones (here) with the ability to integrate with the B-2 in this capacity,” Gossner says. “One of the biggest benefits to this are the relationships that we’ve built with the B-2 pilots. We had the ability to go out to Whiteman Air Force Base to mission plan with them to understand how they think about threats and the tactical problems and then share with them how we think about the same issues.” Of the 10 F-35 pilots, six were instructors and four were students who were preparing to graduate. According to Gossner, no students who have graduated from Luke AFB have ever participated in a flight like this prior to arriving at their operational unit. “Our B-coursers who are graduating are going to graduate as fully mission-ready wingmen,” Gossner says. “With this being such a core part of our mission, we really wanted to put the emphasis on such a high-end training to prepare our B-course graduates for the fights that they are going to be in, and that could be as soon as they get to their new units.” Gossner and Diller said they hope both units can conduct this training more often, ensuring Luke AFB delivers combat-ready airmen to provide a more lethal force around the globe.


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F E AT U R E

First Lt. Adam Treece, 56th Operations Support Squadron intelligence readiness chief, and Capt. David Coyle, 56th OSS weapons officer, test a prototype threat emitter system at Luke Air Force Base. Treece, Coyle and Wylie Standage Beier, ASU electrical engineering Ph.D. student, made the project “Making Waves” to create a low-cost, mobile threat emitter system to be used in training for fifth-generation aircraft. The team is one of six finalists in the annual Spark Tank competition.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leala Marquez)

Igniting Knowledge Thunderbolt Spark Cell leads to airmen innovation BY STAFF SGT. AMBER CARTER 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

I

n August 2020, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. released his strategic approach entitled “Accelerate Change or Lose.” He followed this statement in December 2020 with action orders that represent his call to airmen to move forward aggressively in the push toward change, “allowing more space for innovation.” Luke Air Force Base answered that call to action with the creation of the Thunderbolt Spark Cell. “It is our job as senior leaders to make it as easy as possible for those of you who want to

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make a positive difference for our Air Force and our fellow airmen,” says Brig. Gen. Gregory Kreuder, 56th Fighter Wing commander. “To that end, I have directed the establishment of a 56th FW innovation unit, the Thunderbolt Spark Cell. “The Thunderbolt Spark Cell will bring opportunities and resources to Thunderbolt Nation and will foster your ideas on how to accomplish our mission in innovative ways.” Capt. Christopher Dylewski, 56th FW Commander’s Action Group officer and Thunderbolt Spark Cell director, is leading the charge by establishing the cell at Luke AFB. “The Spark Cell is a one-stop shop for airmen,” Dylewski says. “We exist to make the lives and service of Thunderbolt Nation better and will do that by collecting ideas, getting after them in innovative ways, and bringing outside resources into Luke to work on solutions.”

Sound of Freedom | MARCH/APRIL 2021

A direct approach and allowing space for innovation means less hurdles and more freedom for ideas. “The Spark Cell will report directly to Gen. Kreuder but will have support from AFWERX,” Dylewski says. “AFWERX is an Air Force entity that expands technology, talent and transition partnerships with outside organizations in order to bring the service more rapid and affordable capability.” Luke AFB is no stranger to innovative ideas after winning the 2020 Air Force Spark Tank competition, an annual event hosted at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, where airmen pitch innovative ideas to a panel of top Air Force leadership and industry experts. The 56th FW is also a finalist in the 2021 competition with the Next-Gen Debrief innovation, a concept that utilizes augmented reali-


F E AT U R E ty headsets to project a 3D scene into a debrief room, allowing pilots to view scenarios from any angle. “Luke already has people with great ideas to make Luke work better,” Dylewski says. “That’s obvious when a Luke team makes the finals of an Air Force-wide competition for the second year in a row. We can also tell by the fact that a few days after announcing the Thunderbolt Spark Cell (via email to the base), I have a huge list of ideas from folks about ways to make Luke better.” According to Dylewski, the cell is already working on changing the way low-observable coating is applied to aircraft to help create a more consistent curing process, bringing more 3D printing resources to the base, addressing sporadic power cart reliability, surface tablets to facilitate smooth remote work, and more. “The Thunderbolt Spark Cell is going to be able to take those ideas and make them a reality,” Dylewski says. “Innovation that drives us to live and work better here at Thunderbolt Nation is so important because what we do is so important. What makes the Thunderbolt Spark Cell and innovation here at Luke so critical is that it will help us

A Microsoft HoloLens 2 displays an augmented reality simulation during a demonstration at ASU. The smartglasses project information in 3D, allowing individuals to interact with their surroundings and each other. Luke AFB airmen and an ASU student are bringing an innovative idea to strengthen Air Force culture and capabilities with their submission of the “Next-Gen Debrief” project, which uses augmented reality during the debrief process, in the Air Force Material Command Spark Tank competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Caleb Butler)

all build the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready airmen. Without both of those groups, the Air Force simply cannot accomplish its mission.” For more information about joining the

Spark Cell Board or submitting ideas, contact Capt. Christopher Dylewski at christopher. dylewski.1@us.af.mil or access the Ideascale website at https://usaf.ideascalegov.com/a/ ideas/recent/campaigns/210.

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F E AT U R E

Spousal Support Program is the ‘key’ to providing families critical support BY TECH. SGT. NESTOR CRUZ 944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

A

part of the Air Force culture is volunteering and giving back to the community. An elite team of volunteers serves as a communication link between the wing commander and Luke Air Force Base families. They are known as key spouses.

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“The Key Spouse Program is a peerto-peer support program and a way for spouses to volunteer,” says Jessica Maldonado, 944th Fighter Wing Airman and Family Readiness director. “Key spouses are appointed by the wing commander to come alongside military members and leaders to provide support to families, particularly the spouses.” Key spouses support families with various resources. Maldonado says key spouses have three main functions: providing information, being a communication link between the wing commander and spouses, and providing support during deployments.

Sound of Freedom | MARCH/APRIL 2021

Key Spouses from the 944th Fighter meet at Luke Air Force Base. (U.S.

Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

“Our key spouses go out to the newcomers’ orientation and reach out to the families new to Luke,” she says. “During deployments, they would call and check in with the families, let them know what’s going on like when we do back-to-school events or giveaways for the holidays. Key spouses are getting information out to the families and letting them know about the resources available to them.” The 944th FW Key Spouse Program was launched in 2017 with Maldonado and three key spouse volunteers. Today, the program has grown to 20 key spouses, but more volunteers are still needed to


F E AT U R E support the thousands of families within the wing. “The big thing, and probably why people shy away from the key spouse program, is they think it’s just a social club,” Maldonado says. “These individuals go through specific training, such as what PII (personally identifiable information) is and how to handle sensitive situations. They have a specific and vital role within the wing.” Jill Kuehler, spouse of Senior Master Sgt. Michael Kuehler, 944th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, was one of the three volunteers who helped kick off the 944th’s Key Spouse Program three years ago. “Initially they needed someone, I said sure I’ll do it, and I learned more about it since,” Kuehler says. “It’s a very meaningful program. And I think the more (the program) grows and the more robust it becomes, it’s better for families of the 944th, better for members, and it really helps grow the family participation and atmosphere of support here.” Maldonado wants Reserve citizen airmen to understand the importance of the

key spouse program. “I feel the key spouse program is underutilized in the Reserve, as some believe it’s solely an active-duty program,” she says. “I want people to know more about our program and the resources we can provide them. This is an amazing group of people, and they are passionate about taking care of families.” Kuehler still volunteers her time as a key spouse and enjoys helping her community. “It feels good helping other people,” she says. “I love the involvement of being a key spouse, and I really enjoy giving back and helping other families. This program is about making connections and how the key spouses can facilitate helping in times of need and taking some of the burden off those families.” As with any Air Force program, there are challenges that come with the responsibility of being a key spouse. “Connecting with families is a big challenge given the part-time nature of the Reserve,” Kuehler says. “We’re working to get the word out to families that we exist and there is a valu-

able resource for them.” Kuehler says being a key spouse helps her connect with her husband’s Air Force culture. “The Air Force is a big part of my husband’s life, so participating in that together and staying connected with him is a great reward,” she says. “He speaks another language when he’s talking about Air Force stuff, so the more I’m involved, the more I know the people, and it makes it easier for us to talk about stuff or reference something.” Maldonado and Kuehler are strong advocates for the key spouse program here at Luke and encourage others, male and female spouses, to volunteer and be part of something great. “If anyone is interested in becoming a key spouse, talk to one of us or Jessica and find out what it’s like,” Kuehler says. “It’s pretty awesome.” For more information about the 944th Key Spouse program, contact the 944th FW Airmen & Family Readiness office at 623-856-8324 or jessica.maldonado.7@ us.af.mil.

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41


E D U C AT I O N

A Path to a BIG FUTURE

The Microsoft Datacenter Academy is here to help BY JOHN HECKENLAIBLE

T

ransitioning from a military career to civilian life can be stressful, which is why the Veteran Services Center at Glendale Community College and Estrella Mountain Community College is here to help you. The center at both colleges provides assistance in planning academic paths, identifying federal and state benefit options, certifying education benefits, and guiding veterans through degree planning as well as class selection and registration. Those who are interested in the technology field can meet with center staff at either college to help students enroll in an IT program supported by the Microsoft Datacenter Academy. The program, which is a partnership between GCC and EMCC with support from Microsoft, provides training, skills, certifications and degrees to students who want a career in the growing IT and cloud computing. IT and cloud technology are used daily in communication, banking, gaming, entertainment, business, application development, artificial intelligence and much more. There are many career opportunities for Datacenter

42

Academy students. The GCC and EMCC Microsoft The Veteran Services Center at Glendale Community Datacenter Academy is designed as College and the state-of-the-art IT facilities at Estrella Community College. (Photo courtesy of Maricopa a full-service program that includes Mountain County Community Colleges District) curriculum advising, scholarships, ware maintenance. hands-on learning in state-of-theGlendale Community College provides 41 art computer labs, a Microsoft IT learning lab, work experience programs, and career associate degrees, 61 certificate programs, and mentorship directly from Microsoft profes- a range of nondegree offerings, all available to students in traditional, online and hybrid forsionals. Datacenter Academy students also partic- mats. Founded in 1965 to serve the northwestipate in custom tours of the local Microsoft ern part of the greater Phoenix metropolitan Datacenter, receive in-class lectures by Mic- area, the college is part of the Maricopa Counrosoft Datacenter staff, and engage hands-on ty Community Colleges District. Estrella Mountain Community College is labs as well as question-and-answer panels. The opportunities don’t end in the class- one of 10 colleges in the Maricopa County room. Students are eligible to receive as- Community Colleges District, one of the largsistance with career preparation including est community college districts in the nation. EMCC offers academic courses leading to resume building, interview preparation, building an impactful LinkedIn profile, and associate degrees, university transfer, certifestablishing a Microsoft Careers account icates and short-term job training to more than 14,000 students annually. The flagship with alerts for open-job notifications. The partnership with Microsoft provides campus is located on Thomas and Dysart students with the unique opportunity to in- roads in Avondale. Classes are also offered terview for work experience programs within online and at the EMCC @ West-MEC a Microsoft datacenter and gain experience Southwest Campus at 500 N. Verrado Way, in logistics, inventory management and hard- Buckeye.

Sound of Freedom | MARCH/APRIL 2021


H E A LT H

Keeping Smiles

Bright

Midwestern University hosts free dental day for veterans BY TONY JOHNS

T

Faculty and students from the Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine-Arizona will provide veterans with free screenings and treatments on Saturday, April 17. (Photo courtesy of Midwestern University)

he Midwestern University Dental Institute will open its doors from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 17, to provide free dental care and consultations to Valley military veterans who are unable to afford care. The clinic is located at 5855 W. Utopia Road, Glendale. Faculty and students from the Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine-Arizona will provide free screenings and treat-

ments, including dental examinations, routine cleanings, sealants, fillings, extractions, consultations about dental implants or dentures, and recommendations for follow-up care to approximately 250 veterans. Social distancing, on-site temperature checks and mask requirements are in effect for this event due to COVID-19. Proof of military service (DD214, Arizona military veteran driver license and/

MARCH/APRIL 2021 |

Sound of Freedom

43


H E A LT H or discharge documentation) is required for treatment. Registration is required. Appointments may be arranged by calling 623806-7150 or by visiting midwestern.edu/ veteransdentalday. The goal of the Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine is to provide quality care while training the next generation of dental health care providers. The dental institute is a state-of-the-art facility that utilizes the latest technology, enabling it to provide the highest-quality dental care at affordable prices. Students provide comprehensive, compassionate care while building interpersonal

relationships with their patients. All care is provided under the supervision and direction of licensed dental faculty. Midwestern University is a private, notfor-profit graduate and postgraduate educational institution specializing in the health sciences, with 14 colleges located on two campuses. The Illinois campus, located on a 105-acre site in Downers Grove, is home to nearly 3,000 students and the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine; the College of Pharmacy, Downers Grove; the College of Health Sciences; the College of Dental Medicine-Illinois; the Chicago College of Optometry;

and the College of Graduate Studies. The Arizona campus, located on a 156acre site in Glendale, is home to over 3,900 students and the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine; the College of Pharmacy, Glendale; the College of Health Sciences; the College of Dental Medicine-Arizona; the Arizona College of Optometry; the College of Veterinary Medicine; the College of Graduate Studies; and the Arizona College of Podiatric Medicine. The University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, a Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

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EVENT

OUR MISSION

Healing of Memories Zoom workshop geared toward women veterans BY CHRISTINA FUOCO-KARASINSKI

T

he Institute for Healing of Memories, in partnership with Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center, will host a Healing of Memories Zoom Workshop for Women Veterans. To continue to serve veterans in need of psychological and spiritual healing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the two organizations have created a four-hour online Zoom workshop from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 20. The Zoom workshop does not provide the full experience of the usual weekend workshop, but it has been shown to provide a significant level of healing and connection for the participants. Attendees have said they felt a sense of comradery, compassion and community nonjudgment during the workshops. Others got in touch with deep emotions. The workshop is free for any woman service member or veteran. Those interested in the workshop may find out more about it or register free for the workshop by contacting Mike Wold, U.S. Navy veteran and workshop coordinator, at 651-687-9767. Space is limited to the first 12 women veterans who register. The Institute for Healing of Memories is an international organization that seeks to contribute to lasting individual and collective healing that makes possible a more peaceful and just future. Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center, located in Arizona, hosts programs and retreats for participants of all faiths and traditions to experience reconciliation, renewal, healing and transformation.

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Sen. Mark Kelly meets with Luke Air Force Base personnel just as he’s named chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. (Photo courtesy Sen. Mark Kelly’s office)

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BY CHRISTINA FUOCO-KARASINSKI

.S. Senator Mark Kelly spent the state work period in Arizona focused on, among other things, Arizona’s defense priorities with visits to Luke and Davis-Monthan Air Force bases. Kelly’s visits to Davis-Monthan and Luke are the first since he became a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. At Davis-Monthan AFB, Kelly and Gen. Charles Brown, chief of staff of the Air Force, received a briefing on the mission of the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan, including the A-10, and toured the base. At Luke AFB, Kelly was briefed by base leadership on priorities, including the F-35 program. In mid-February, Kelly was named chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. The panel oversees Department of Defense policies and programs related to intelligence, special operations and counterterrorism, among others. The committee’s jurisdiction includes the intelligence missions based at Fort Huachuca in Cochise County, and the work being done at Arizona installations to develop technology and capabilities to respond to emerging threats is also central to the committee’s goals. Kelly also met with his Defense Advisory Group, made up of leaders from Arizona’s military community who advise Kelly as he advocates for the state’s defense priorities.


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