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105th Airman takes advantage of Air Guard benefits

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STEWAR AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. (August 16, 2019) – It takes all Airmen across Stewart Air National Guard Base to keep the 105th Airlift Wing doing good work across the globe.

Whether it’s getting C-17 Globemaster IIIs in the air, installing communication lifelines for the warfighter with the 213th Engineering Installations Squadron, or keeping the Airmen of the 105th Base Defense Squadron in the fight, there are Airmen behind the scenes working tirelessly.

One such Airmen is Master Sgt. Kelly McDermott, an administrative personnelist assigned to the 105th.

“The career field entails more than people realize,” McDermott said. “We are stewards of human resource functions, office management, overseas postal operations, postal and official mail [stateside], as well as executive support.”

Command support staff, which is one of McDermott’s current roles along with being the wing executive assistant and functional manager for all 3F5X1s on base, are directly tied to a commander. They are responsible for all office management, which is required to keep commanders, first sergeants and chiefs on track. The CSS works on everything from scheduling meetings to cutting orders to make sure Airmen are put on active duty when needed.

“Everyday varies depending on the need of the organization,” McDermott said. “There are times that the phones are ringing off the hook and members are flooding your office for assistance.”

McDermott said the pace can be challenging at times, with multiple competing priorities requiring her attention.

“People have to be good with change, whether it’s policies and procedures, or just minute by minute because this fast operations tempo requires personnel to switch gears on a moment’s notice,” McDermott said.

With great challenging come great rewards.

McDermott said the knowledge she has gained in the position and the relationships she has built with other Airmen have been best part of the job.

McDermott wasn’t always a CSS.

McDermott began her career in 1996 as a C-5 Galaxy loadmaster at Stewart Air National Guard Base.

Loadmasters are enlisted aircrew responsible for the safe transportation of everything in the cargo compartment of an aircraft. They could be carrying pallets of water for humanitarian relief one day and the next day flying a tank to the battlefield.

Loadmasters ensure the cargo weight is evenly distributed throughout the aircraft and that the cargo is strapped down appropriately.

At her 10-year mark, McDermott made the decisions to leave the military altogether.

“During that time, I was able to raise my children while being a stay at home mom, going to school and supporting my husband, Chief Master Sgt (Ret) Pete McDermott, while he continued his flying career,” McDermott said.

It wasn’t long before she felt the pull back into the Air Guard Family. She joined the West Virginia Air National Guard in Martinsburg in 2011 as a knowledge operations Airman.

“I felt that it was time for me to come back, because I missed being a part of the military as a member,” McDermott said.

The Air National Guard has afforded McDermott myriad benefits, beyond a paycheck, that she has happily made use of throughout her career.

She said the education benefits, which she has been able to share with her children, and the healthcare have been a tremendous help for her and her family.

During her time in West Virginia, McDermott used tuition assistance through the Air Guard to continue college for free, finishing her degree in less than four years thanks to the credits she received for training in the Air National Guard.

“I felt that I took the first 10 years of my career and did what I wanted to do, but I knew if I wanted to stay competitive in the workforce, I needed my degree,” McDermott said.