Inside the 908th: Personnel specialists

  • Published
  • By Maj. John T. Stamm
  • 908th Airlift Wing

Editor’s Note: In the spirit of our Air Force Reserve Command award-winning series “I am the 908th”, and the 16-part “We are the 908th”, we are proud to introduce the third installment of the 908th trilogy, “Inside the 908th”.  This new series will not focus on individuals, groups, or squadrons, but rather we will investigate specific career fields our Reservists and civilians work in every day and how they enable mission accomplishment.

Also known as “The Human Link,” the motto of 908th Airlift Wing personnel specialists is “Jack of all trades - Master of none.” The motto reflects their capability and responsibility for the implementation, maintenance, and operation of multiple military personnel and human resource programs.

Personnelists (Air Force Specialty Code 3F0X1) analyze Air Force policy and provide recommendations to commanders, supervisors, and Airmen on benefits, entitlements, career progression, retention, and relocation programs.  They also supply leadership with personnel-related data and information services needed to make force management decisions.

Attention to detail and general office management skills, such as preparing and maintaining records, administrative communications, and interviewing and counseling techniques, are crucial to success in this specialty; so are customer service skills. 

Staff Sgt. Vanessa G. Senegar, 908th Force Support Squadron, said the most satisfying aspect of the career field is being able to help others.  

“I know that I am making someone happy by getting the job done,” she said.  “Teaching new Airmen to make a difference is another highlight of my job.”

Personnelists train on many Air Force programs including; assignments, promotions, evaluations, identification cards, separations, retirements, benefits, entitlements, retention, classification, awards, decorations, and retraining.  After obtaining proficiency in day-to-day operations, a select few become members of the Personnel Systems Management office.  A specialized subset of the career field, the PSM office installs, configures, maintains, troubleshoots, and repairs personnel data systems, provides management advisory services, trains users on the technical aspects of the automated systems, and renders end-user support.

“Maintaining data integrity is our main objective,” said 908 AW PSM non-commissioned officer in charge Master Sgt. David. A. Pearson.  “If we are entering information into the systems that is not concise, that is not correct, it can affect many other areas.”

Some systems maintained by the PSM office include the Case Management System, designed to provide base-level offices the ability to track and resolve pay-affecting issues; the Virtual Military Personnel Flight, an electronic replica of the traditional personnel office, allowing users to check their records and initiate some actions that formerly have required in-person visits; and the Personnel Records Display Action, an electronic viewer allowing members, supervisors, first sergeants and commanders access to personnel records.

One of the primary systems is the Military Personnel Data System.  This is the records database for personnel data and actions that occur throughout every Airman's career.  It is used to maintain Air Force accountability and strength metrics and support a host of interactions with other Air Force and Department of Defense processes and systems that rely on personnel data.

MilPDS is also used to initiate pay actions, which is arguably the most critical function it can perform from the individual Airman’s perspective.  If a member’s information is incorrect they may not receive accurate compensation or entitlements, or possibly not receive any at all.  This situation may hamper mission accomplishment, especially at a deployed location, because it can create an undesirable financial situation at home for the Airman.  Any distraction, especially a financial one, can prohibit an Airman from completely focusing on their job. 

“Personnelists are involved from assignment to retirement,” Pearson said.  “They gain members to the unit, process awards and promotions, and ensure proper pay and entitlements.  Without personnel, there is no mission.”

If you are interested in a part-time career with full-time benefits as a Reserve Citizen Airman with the 908th Airlift Wing, please contact our Recruiting staff at 334-953-6737.