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Rising Four helps bond junior enlisted Airmen

Group also does volunteer work on and off base

Rising Four Airmen from McChord Field gather for a photo after a recent volunteering opportunity in the local community. /Courtesy photo

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For a couple of hours every Sunday, junior enlisted Airmen from McChord Field get the chance to impact lives at the Tacoma Rescue Mission.

From serving food to cleaning up, members of the base's Rising Four group are giving back to the local community outside the gate.

"Airmen like it a lot because they can directly see the impact of what they're doing," said Airman 1st Class Leah Young, the Rising Four president who spearheaded the outreach at the Tacoma Rescue Mission.

"It's been (a) successful (program)," she said. "The first time they go, they feel it and understand why it's important and why it's good to volunteer."

The group's mission is to promote and enhance the morale and prestige of the junior enlisted corps (to the rank of E-4), actively promote enlisted development and promote and strengthen the McChord and local community relations.

The Rising Four at McChord has participated in everything from planting trees on base as part of Earth Day activities to helping put together deployed family dinners and the base's annual awards banquet.

"We work a lot with the base Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff, as well as Better Opportunities for Single Servicemembers," Young said. "People usually come to us and ask if we can provide volunteers. We're trying to make our presence more known."

In years past, there was a $5 yearly fee to be part of the group, but in an effort to help get more Airmen involved, Chief Master Sgt. Greg Warren, the 62nd Airlift Wing command chief, waived the fee.

Every junior enlisted Airman on base is part of the group, and there is strong base of 15 to 20 Airmen who routinely show up for the monthly meeting, Young said.

"We're working closely with Chief Warren and finding better ways to give back," said Senior Airman Bradley Gilligan, a member of the 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron. "We really want to create a solid foundation."

But the group isn't just about volunteer work and career development. It's about esprit-de-corps as well. During the holidays, members gathered for a homemade dinner in at the Airman Activities Center at the base dorms.

"I want to create a sense of community," Young said.

And because not every Airman can make it to the monthly meeting or volunteer opportunities because of rotating work schedules, the Rising Four executive council is working on planting a group representative in each squadron to continually keep Airmen abreast of what's going on. And since many young Airmen are away from home and in a new environment while living on base, the group can provide a valuable connection to one's peers.

"You need to have a support system to fall back on," said Gilligan, a Flint, Mich., native.

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