The Right Role, the Right Way

Magazine Article / December 13, 2021

By Warrant Officer (Retired) Kip Cormier, Former Unit Flight Safety NCM, 403 Helicopter Operational Training Squadron

The RCAF Reserve is great way to continue serving for those with a desire to transition from the Regular Force, which comes with the benefit of employing experienced personnel in key positions if needed immediately. For the member, this also allows the benefit of experiencing employment outside the military, while still utilizing previously gained skills and knowledge within the Reserve, mentoring and giving back to the establishment that we served for so long.

In my case, I was a Master Warrant Officer (MWO) and 31-year veteran employed as the Operations MWO and Senior Flight Engineer at the Tactical Flight School in Gagetown. Due to family considerations, my family and I made the choice to release from service rather than take another posting. The Reserve Force gave me the option of remaining in service as the Unit Flight Safety Non-Commissioned Member, drawing on my experience without having to uproot my family and move. My previous experience both as a Flight Safety Representative and experienced Flight Engineer made for a quick and seamless transition into the Air Reserve.

At the same time, I was approached by a civilian company, Total Response Solutions (TRS) that carries out contract work doing Rescue and Medevac projects, about accepting a position with them. The advantage and flexibility of a part-time (Class A) Reserve contract offered the ability to accept the civilian position and still be able to work at and contribute to the unit. The key to making it work for both was determining the unit’s requirements, what I could provide on a part-time basis, and if both factors could suit the Air Reserve Flight. In this case, with the unit being a busy flight school, it is difficult for Regular Force members to commit full-time to the office, as most are also employed as flight instructors which also comes with student logistics, course requirements, and other complications.

If we go back to the unit’s requirement, it was the ability to fill a dedicated position, which is what I gave them. My duty was Flight Safety (FS) first. The fact that I am also certified as a flight instructor allowed me to also take on some of the student load when practicable. As for what I could provide (although having me exclusively would allow for more flight time), working part-time was enough to dedicate time to the FS occurrences and reports that had to be completed while the Regular Force personnel were carrying out other duties. Did it fit the needs of the Air Reserve Flight? Absolutely!

From a company perspective, TRS is a veteran-owned, veteran-operated company with projects around the world. With the right employer that values and supports the experience military service brings to the civilian workforce, it allows for the integration of reservists, while still allowing the member to serve. Currently within TRS there are more than 30 personnel, most of whom are retired RCAF or equivalent, with approximately half of the retired Regular Force holding Reserve positions at Greenwood, Nova Scotia and right across the country as far as Comox, British Columbia. With the Air Reserve providing that flexibility and the combination of our experience in a civilian capacity, the benefit that comes back to the Air Reserve on the whole is immeasurable.

The use of reservists in part-time positions has ensured efficient and effective flying operations within the RCAF. In my case, it showed how it allowed for aircrew personnel (who may not be available for flying duties) to be utilized in their flying positions, while employed to complete those key duties that could otherwise fall behind. On top of this, reservists are a valuable resource with experience remained in service, training and mentoring the next generation of military aviators. That, in my opinion, is the greatest benefit for both the RCAF and the Class A reservist when employed in the right role and in the right way.

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