22 Wing the Best of Both Worlds for this Reserve Officer

Magazine Article / July 8, 2020 / Project number: RCAF-Excelsior-Summer-2020-7

Second Lieutenant Randy Bilodeau is an RCAF Reserve Logistics Officer at 22 Wing/Canadian Forces Base North Bay. This is the place his mother, a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Reserve, has called home and where he, too, has planted roots with his own young family. 2Lt Bilodeau decided to seek out his life-long dream of joining the CAF and became a “Class A” (i.e. part-time) Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Reservist in December 2018. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Nipissing University (Ontario) and the experience of managing a finance company 40 hours a week, “Being a Logistics Officer is seamless for me due to my background,” he says.

I chose to join the RCAF Reserves as a Logistics officer because I found my business education and background matched perfectly with the duties and responsibilities of a Logistics Officer (Log O). For instance, the Log O position has similar tasks to civilian management such as contract approval/verification, writing and delivering performance reviews, and ensuring policies and procedures are being followed by personnel. Skills from my civilian job that I use at 22 Wing include experience with using office software, online-based learning, as well as leading others by example.

My family was very excited for me to take on the challenge of joining the CAF and completing basic training. My mother encouraged me to aim to be an officer, as she was a non-commissioned member for her career and thought my bachelor’s degree would open up more possibilities with the military than she had.

The kind of occupational training I need to complete for the Log O trade involves the seven-week Logistics Commons course that I just completed in March 2020, the four-week Logistics Air Force Commons course, which I had almost completed for this April before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the CAF to cease training. Both courses were held in Borden, Ontario, using a team-based learning approach. We get to meet other Log Os from across Canada that are new to the trade and get to learn about all the specialities. The travel experience is great because you get to meet new people, see new areas of the country and experience how another wing/base works. This is especially helpful as a reservist at 22 Wing, which is a smaller base than most.

While I’m able to perform my duties at 22 Wing, I still will need the Human Resources (HR) specialty course to reach my occupational functionality point.

I was able to complete training by working with my civilian employer to find times in the calendar year that they could afford to lose me for up to 12 weeks at a time on an unpaid personal leave of absence to complete the military training.

The most interesting thing so far in my limited Reserve career would definitely be completing the "Vimy” exercise which is the final test for officer cadets completing their basic military officer qualification. It is a challenging four-day exercise where cadets continually complete four-hour missions with a different cadet as the commander each time. You receive orders and have limited time to plan out how to complete the mission, present your preferred course of action to your captain and then once approved present your orders to the platoon. You head out into the field leading the group to execute your plan. They throw surprises in like ambush attacks or civilians who need help, but can secretly be the enemy which makes it really exciting. The four-hour missions don't stop until everyone has done their own, so you don't get to sleep outside of sneaking in quick naps while getting all your gear ready for the next mission. The aim of the exercise is to test your mental and physical strength and ability to manage stress under demanding conditions. We did our missions in July in the southern Quebec weather and I loved the experience of testing my body and mind to not give up for myself and my platoon mates. The chance to lead a platoon of fellow cadets on a mission that I have planned and executed was a great challenge that showed I can achieve so much more than with a regular civilian job.

When not training, I balance both civilian and Reserve employment by having supervisors in both jobs being flexible for what days I can work. By working evenings and Saturdays at my civilian employment I can work full days during the week at 22 Wing.

The faster I can complete the Human Resource courses, the faster I am promoted and can start the work of a Log O, fully integrated into the RCAF. I can definitely see a time down the road where I will want to transition to full-time Class B or Class C service in support of Op LASER/Op LENTUS, as my time in Reserve has taught me that I love the challenge and excitement that comes from working for the CAF.

For those thinking of joining the RCAF Reserve, I ask you this; “Are you looking for a challenge, to be part of a professional team, to serve your country?” and then I say, “what are you waiting for?”

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