Different uniform: same mission
By Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson, 169th FW/PA
/ Published July 26, 2013
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- The Defenders at McEntire Joint National Guard Base don't all wear the Airman Battle Uniform, some wear blue. However, they are all committed to protecting McEntire's people, assets and property. That is especially true for Security Specialist Veronica Dennis.
Dennis is a civilian South Carolina Military Department employee who works for the 169th Security Forces Squadron. She prefers to answer her call to serve here, rather than in the civilian populace. Dennis began her career in law enforcement working security at Shaw AFB for almost five years, and has been a Swamp Fox Defender since June 2012.
"You're held to a different standard in the military," said Dennis. "Regardless of rank, if you do your job right, people will respect you. That is what I like about working here. You never know what you'll get when working in the civilian force."
Dennis comes from a family with a law enforcement background, so this career choice came naturally to her. She says most of her family either is or has been a police officer.
"I fell into the job at Shaw after I moved back home from going to school in Maryland and it's been good ever since," she said.
Some of Dennis' duties include: ensuring everyone authorized entry onto the base has proper credentials, ensuring vehicle information is current, conducting vehicle searches and managing traffic control. She also notifies sponsors before contractors are authorized entry, signs-in visitors and ensures all necessary paperwork is correct and in the individual's possession.
Just like her military teammates, Dennis is fully trained in Self-Aid and Buddy Care, proper vehicle searches and even how to recognize improvised explosive devices. She is also qualified with the M-9 pistol as well as M-4 and M-16 rifles.
Chief Master Sgt. Robert E. Davis, 169th Fighter Wing Command Chief and full time Security Forces Chief, says Dennis is one of his "go-to" employees when it comes to the new Defense Biometrics Identification System software.
Dennis was involved from the start of the program at McEntire. Currently she registers individuals and issues contractor badges to those who will be working on base for more than six months.
"I appreciate her dedication to the organization," said Davis. "She has a can-do attitude and is always polite to individuals coming onto the installation."
Davis mentioned he is constantly receiving feedback from people she encounters at the gate about the fantastic job she is doing.
"They take the time to recognize her. That means a lot to me," said Davis. And so, he would like to take the time to recognize her as well.
Dennis was also "coined" by Command Chief Master Sgt. Mitchell O. Brush, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, during his recent visit with Airmen at McEntire, because of her commendable work performance.
Davis stated the security specialists at McEntire have the same duties and responsibilities as our technician, Active Guard and Reserve, and traditional Airmen. "They go through standardization evaluation and get certified on each post they work," said Davis. "There is a written, practical and verbal test specific for McEntire."
"These [civilian employees] are not [members] of the Air National Guard, but they understand our mission and are true civilians who can tell our story, which could potentially help with recruiting as well," Davis said.
Dennis enjoys the small community of McEntire the most. When she is not on duty, guarding the personnel and resources at McEntire, Dennis is studying to earn her Bachelors in Science degree in radiology. She also has a very large family that she spends a lot of time with and is part of a bowling league at Shaw AFB.
Command Chief Master Sgt. Davis is very proud of all the state and military employees who help guard McEntire JNGB. He says they all do an outstanding job here.