HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel to our nation’s capital with the opportunity to meet members of Congress from your state?
Earlier in June, three Team Hill members did just that; Brig. Gen. Steven J. Bleymaier, Ogden Air Logistics Complex commander, was accompanied by Matthew Bates, 309th Maintenance Support Squadron, and Evan Edwards, 309th Software Maintenance Group.
Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Chris Stewart from Utah’s 2nd District, opened their doors and welcomed the trio in for 30-minute visits each. The planned meetings were part of a yearly requirement called Air Force Relations with Congress, which is overseen by the legislative affairs branch of the Air Force public affairs office.
Under this program, wing and complex commanders are encouraged to bring along base representatives to join in the discussions.
Bates selection was due to his wide range of involvement on Hill AFB. His primary duties as a maintenance technician are supplemented by being a group union steward and a Voluntary Protection Program, or VPP, representative.
“All three jobs really go together; helping people is very gratifying,” said Bates. “I enjoy meeting people and helping them with their concerns and helping resolve issues.
Dealing with the struggles of doing more with less and the constant pressure on manpower issues — mainly the length of time it takes filling open positions — are priorities Bates addressed during the time spent with the legislators.
With manpower challenges facing the Ogden ALC, recent steps have been taken that have greatly improved the hiring outlook.
Weekly hiring meetings are held to monitor all actions for Team Hill. These meetings also include individuals from the Air Force Sustainment Center and Air Force Personnel Center.
“During the month of May, we saw our first real return on investment where we had an increase of 163 employees with year-to-date totals of 352, on our way to hiring more than 1,000 people in the next year,” said Ronda Reynolds, Ogden ALC’s chief of business operations.
Other recruiting initiatives have shown great promise including partnering with local applied technology colleges within the greater Salt Lake area and Utah Department of Workforce Services. These efforts will help to continue to fill the pipeline with qualified employee candidates.
Edwards, an electronics engineer, shared the challenges he faced when trying to decide between on- or off-base employment.
“I worked in Logan, Utah, for two and half years before I was employed on base. I wanted to find the right meaningful work that would be enjoyable each day,” Edwards said.
Here in Utah, low unemployment rates, along with a strong economy and accompanied with high demand from industry, makes it a challenge to find and keep skilled engineers.
When asked about working on base, Edwards said, “I have been working at Hill for five years and I take the greatest amount of pride to say that I work for 309th Software Maintenance Group and the work I do is meaningful to help complete the overall mission for the warfighter.
“I have gained the deepest respect for all the United States services and all they do for our freedoms. I absolutely love working on base and I wish I could share that desire with new college graduates,” Edwards said.
The opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., was a great honor to both civilian employees. Their hard work, positive attitudes and pride in providing combat readiness established them as superb representatives of the Ogden ALC to have on the trip.
“Both members of Congress greatly appreciated having Matt and Evan attend the meetings,” said Bleymaier. “They did a superb job telling the story of issues faced by our workforce and their families. I’m proud to serve on the same team with Matt and Evan working together to support the Air Force and AFSC missions.”