Recruiting Service Program inspires youngsters with music, spirit to serve

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Bobby Pilch
  • Air Force Recruiting Service, Detachment 1

Senior Air Force leaders and the Air Force Academy Band took center stage across several schools in Rapid City, Jan. 26 and 27, to highlight Air Force diversity through the Air Force Recruiting Service’s General Officer Inspire program.

The band quickly won fans at Rapid Valley Elementary School while performing in front of more than 500 students and faculty members for what was described as a rare performance by Jessica Gates, the school’s secretary and an Air Force veteran.

“This was such a treat, and I was glad that we were able to pull this event together,” said Gates, who worked with AFRS' Detachment 1 to coordinate the engagement.

“The mission of Detachment 1 is to inform, influence and inspire the next generation of aviators,” said Maj. Celeste Luna, the director of Detachment 1’s GO Inspire program.

Part of the mission of GO Inspire is to engage and influence young people through unique community outreach programs and events coordinated by Detachment 1, which focuses on pre-accession audiences and influencers.

“The GO Inspire program was designed just a couple of years ago to encourage our general officers to get out into the community and inspire the youth and those around them to spread the good word about the Air and Space Forces,” Luna said. “We like to get out to the communities that don’t have a large military presence and show them that anybody – no matter their size, shape, color or background – can be an aviator in the Air Force. By doing events like these, we bring out aviators, wear flight suits and show them that aviators look way different than a lot of people seem to think they look.”

Like the band, Brig. Gen. Lisa Craig, AFRS deputy commander, was well received and took time to engage one-on-one with students and faculty members during the three-school tour to share her experiences and how the Air Force has benefited her over her career.

“The best way to represent the United States in a more diverse manner within our services is to meet folks where they are,” Craig said. “Many of our youth coming up through the lower grades have never heard or seen a servicemember or know about the Air Force. We had a great opportunity to take the Air Force Academy Band to meet with elementary, middle and high school youth. Not only were we able to inspire and engage them but also their influencers, educators and administrators.”

While the impressions made by the band, Craig and several of the Airmen assigned to Detachment 1 may be fresh in the minds of audience members for weeks to come, choosing to don the Air Force uniform is a lifestyle commitment.

“We’re talking about a life brand,” Craig said. “The more we have those touchpoints at these young ages, it piques their interest and they can start to see the art of the possible in their lives and the chance of the Air Force being a part of what they consider their future.”

The General Officer Inspire Program is a diversity outreach initiative for general officers to engage with youth and youth influencers (parents, teachers, coaches, civic/community leaders, etc.) to increase diversity in the Air Force's flying community.