BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. – The 2nd Bomb Wing hosted local education leaders on May 10 at Barksdale Air Force Base.
The event was part of an effort to strengthen Barksdale’s relationship with local key influencers, discuss the opportunities and benefits of military service, and provide an understanding of the 2nd Bomb Wing mission.
Attendees participated in a discussion with Col. Joseph McKenna, 2nd Bomb Wing vice commander, about the recent decline in recruiting and the critical role educators play in influencing the choices of today’s youth. Attendees also learned about the strategic mission of the 2nd Bomb Wing and participated in a B-52 Stratofortress tour conducted by aircrew, weapons and maintenance Airmen.
The group discussed some of the reasons why young adults are less likely to enlist today as opposed to past decades and what could be done to address those concerns.
McKenna talked about how young adults often don’t have access to information about everything the military has to offer. Many lack personal connections to individuals with knowledge about the military. That lack of knowledge may cause them to feel disconnected and disinterested in military service.
In an interview prior to the event, Col. Scott Weyermuller, commander of the 2nd Bomb Wing, said he hopes that these community members can take what they learned during their visit and answer students’ military questions, as well as share their knowledge of the Air Force.
“I ask them basically to tell our story; tell the kids what it is they see out here,” Weyermuller explained.
One of the educators in attendance was Rebekah Burns, a 1st grade teacher at Kingston Elementary School. She said that many students start thinking about their future as early as elementary school.
“We start talking about what you want to be when you grow up, even in Kindergarten,” said Burns. “Being here today is really impactful for me so that whenever my students tell me ‘I want to be in the Air Force when I grow up,’ I can talk to them about my experiences with the Air Force and help them make that connection.”
The group expressed their enthusiasm for gaining a deeper understanding of the Air Force and all it has to offer for the next generation. Wing leadership shared that they look forward to collaborating more with the local community and continuing to strengthen the relationship between key influencers and Barksdale Air Force Base.
Weyermuller said he hopes this event is just the first step and that it leads to similar events down the road.
He added that the ultimate goal is to keep the next generation informed about the opportunities available to them, and this group can help to share that information.