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Airman gains career opportunity in 127th Wing

151027-Z-VA676-072 -- Airman 1st Class Kyra Ballard sits in the orderly room of the 127th Wing headquarters at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Oct. 27, 2015. Ballard said she enlisted in the Air National Guard to create an opportunity for herself. “Joining the Air Force is probably the best decision I have made in my life, so far,” she said. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton)

151027-Z-VA676-072 -- Airman 1st Class Kyra Ballard sits in the orderly room of the 127th Wing headquarters at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Oct. 27, 2015. Ballard said she enlisted in the Air National Guard to create an opportunity for herself. “Joining the Air Force is probably the best decision I have made in my life, so far,” she said. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton)

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- Airman 1st Class Kyra Ballard was looking to create an opportunity for herself. Joining the Michigan Air National Guard provided her just that.

"Joining the Air Force is probably the best decision I have made in my life, so far," said Ballard, who works as a personnel specialist for the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

Ballard is among the roughly 1,700 Michigan residents who make up the 127th Wing at Selfridge - and the Wing is actively hiring, said Master Sgt. Milton Rogers, the recruiting supervisor for the wing.

"We have 80 different job and career paths," Rogers said. "The opportunities exist right now, right here."

After Ballard finished high school, a friend suggested she check out the Air National Guard. She talked to a recruiter and took the military's job aptitude test - known as the ASVAB. Based on her test score and local openings, Ballard could have chosen to serve in the 127th Wing as a plumber, communications specialist or a few other choices.

"Working as a personnel specialist seemed like the best fit for me," said Ballard, who is also a student at Wayne County Community College. "I've gained a lot of experience thanks to the military."

Among the benefits that new Airmen like Ballard qualify for is $36,000 worth of tuition assistance over the course of a six-year enlistment. In addition, she attended an Air Force technical school to learn to be a personnel specialist and all that training - like all formal Air Force schools - was accredited for college credit.

"I think the training and the college benefits are really key for a young person, just starting their career," said Tech. Sgt. Maygan Rhodes, a recruiter with the 127th Wing at Selfridge. "For a brand-new recruit, they're being paid at over $10 an hour, with no experience and it quickly goes up from there."

An Airman 1st Class with three years of service can expect to earn about $4,300 per year for part-time duty. A technical sergeant with 10 years of service makes about $10,000 per year. A first lieutenant with three years of service makes about $9,300 per year.

Generally, members of the Air National Guard serve about one weekend per month and two weeks of active duty per year. ANG Airmen are also subject to service in a forward deployment. An Airman's pay and benefits increase for additional duty time.

Rogers and Rhodes said opportunities also exist in the 127th Wing for veterans and other adults up to the age of 40.

"Often times, these people show up with job skills or other training that allows them to start at a higher rank. Our recruits who are a little bit older are often drawn to the fact that they can earn a retirement after 20 years of service," Rhodes said. "This can really be a benefit to someone who previously served in the military and now can build upon that service."

Members of the Air National Guard are also eligible to purchase medical and dental insurance for themselves and their families. For medical only, the cost for medical insurance is about $55 per month for an individual and about $200 per month for a family.

Information on careers at the 127th Wing is available at www.127wg.ang.af.mil/careers or by calling (800) 645-9420. Information on the Air National Guard is available at www.goang.com and on the Air Force as a whole at http://www.airforce.comwww.airforce.com

About the 127th Wing
Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command and Air Combat Command operations by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marks its 98th year of continuous military air operations in 2015.