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Face of Defense: Reservist’s Military, Civilian Job Responsibilities Match

January 05, 2018

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Jan. 5, 2018 — For many reservists, work life does not end when they take off the uniform. Air Force Maj. Francis J. Tobias is one of these airmen. Aside from a change of setting and suit and tie, his profession remains the same.

“I do the exact same job; I just change clothes,” he said.

In uniform, Tobias serves as the director of equal opportunity for the 940th Air Refueling Wing here. In his civilian position, he is the vice president of human resources for the California Dental Association.

This wasn’t always the case though. It took years of patience before Tobias was able to put his two careers together.

It started when he joined ROTC as a freshman with an undeclared major. Shortly into his first year, his detachment commander told him he needed to pick a major to stay in the program.

Tobias was handed a list of majors and began reading through it. It was full of technical studies and a few foreign languages, but none of them was sparking his interest. He continued reading until he reached the last subject on the page: personnel.

“What’s personnel?” he asked.

Human Resources

The commander told him it was the study of human resources management. Tobias thought it may be interesting, but in the end, he said, he chose it because it had the least amount of units needed to graduate. But after his first course, he knew he made the right decision.

“I took HR 101 and fell in love with it,” he said.

His passion for helping people fit perfectly with the supportive nature of the career field. “Whatever I do is to help someone else, and that’s what I love about it,” he explained.

When it came time to commission, the demand for personnel officers had decreased. Tobias followed the needs of the Air Force to a logistics position.

On the civilian side, he continued with what he studied, holding various human resources jobs and growing into more advanced positions. Now that he’s the California Dental Association’s vice president of human resources, he and his team provide services to 28,000 dentists across the state.

Human resources services, like equal opportunity in the military, help to develop leadership skills and keep the work environment running efficiently. Both provide training, raise awareness and remove any and all unprofessional, discriminatory and harassing behavior. HR also offers assistance with hiring, recruiting, reviews and benefits.

Civilian, Military Careers Align

About 10 years after entering the human resources career field, Tobias was presented a chance to become an Air Force Reserve personnel officer. He was thrilled.

“The opportunity to connect both my civilian and military careers in this way was both a blessing and a privilege,” the major said. “I felt doing the same job would allow me to grow, both personally and professionally, and this growth would allow for me to be a better support for all those I would help.”

Helping is what equal opportunity focuses on. Tobias and his team strive to enhance mission readiness and ensure all Beale reservists have positive work environments. Airmen are encouraged to reach out to his office and speak up about any difficulties they may be facing.

“We welcome all problems,” he said. “We want [airmen] to feel if they have an issue, they have somewhere to go.”

In addition to mediating problems, equal opportunity also gives briefings during wing commander’s calls and organizes activities to foster healthy workplace communications.

“Without positive human relations, it is very detrimental and makes the mission difficult to complete,” Tobias said. “If a member is facing discriminatory behavior, there’s no way we can expect that airman to do their job, much less even want to be in the Air Force… If that [behavior] persists, the mission stops.”

Workplace problems can arise in any environment and are often stressful, but rest assured there is always someone to lean on. In or out of uniform, Tobias and his passion for supporting others will help keep the mission running smoothly.