TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Let's face it. Kids these days
would much rather play countless hours of video games, stay indoors,
and enjoy their sense of entitlement.
What happens when you
have an eager teen that would rather advocate to make their tiny
world just a little better?
For 17-year old Ryan Pavey,
representing the collective voice for tens of thousands of Air Force
Reserve youth sets him apart from the average teen. As the AF
Reserve representative to the AF Teen Council, it's something he
believes allows him to make a difference in the lives of kids just
"I bridge the gap between the Air Force Reserve and
the active duty Air Force,” said Pavey, who took on the role in May
2014. “This allows me to share the concerns and issues of the AF
Reserve with their active duty counterparts.”
November 27, 2014 - Ryan Pavey (15) holds the hand of Lola Oliver while visiting the Veteran's Home of California in Younville, Calif. (Courtesy photo)
As a member of the Air Force Teen Council, he helps
improves communication between teens and Air Force
leadership, said Heidi Welch, Air Force Personnel Center
Child and Youth Programs Branch chief The overarching goal,
she said, is for the AF Teen Council “to ultimately enact
change which will improve the quality of life for Air Force
That change can come in the form of both
large and small projects and programs. Pavey highlighted
work that the AF Reserve Teen Council has done already like
creating Facebook-based videos to outline teen benefits and
opportunities for reserve youth whom might not know what is
available to them.
One example the AF Reserve Teen
Council has tackled is educating youth about the “Set Sail
on your Scholarship” program, which, according to Pavey,
“helps AF teens get learn about scholarships to for college
via the AF Teen Council” so that ultimately no AF teen is
left behind when it comes to educational opportunities.
“It makes me really happy to know there are other AF
youth out there that can have their lives directly touched
by the things I've done,” he said.
there's still more to do.
“There's a shortage or lack
of youth programs for AF Reserve teens, or lack of programs
that help improve the quality of life.”
this shortage, Lt. Gen. Jackson is focusing on “developing
the team.” Air Force Services Child and Youth Programs has
announced Teen Leadership Summits at Dahlonega, Ga. and
Estes Park, Colo. this Summer for AF Reserve and Air
National Guard dependent teens aged 14-18 to experience a
week-long adventure with other Air Force teens.
leadership camps strengthen self-confidence and
resourcefulness needed in today's challenging and ever
While balancing the many other things
that teens his age do, Pavey divides his time amongst sports
and other extracurricular activities. Throughout the week,
he said he allots, on average, three and four hours to
address youth outreach efforts, including teleconferences
with youth across the globe at a variety of AF
His involvement on a world-wide stage
for both AF Reserve and AF youth-related issues isn't lost
on his mother, Lt. Col. Shawna Pavey, 349th Air Mobility
Wing Inspector General.
“When it occurred to Ryan
that there are more than 70,000 members of the AF Reserve,
the vastness of that responsibility was really magnified to
him to what it meant to represent all those people's
children,” said Lt. Col. Pavey. “I was in the 349th [Air
Mobility Wing] when he was born, so this is what he knows
and I couldn't be more proud. To get that honor is
Lt Col. Pavey said she has learned
through Ryan's experiences just how challenging it can be as
AF Reserve teens to be included or even have an awareness of
AF youth programs.
“Sometimes with the Citizen Airmen
concept, our children tend to get excluded,” she said.
“Youth centers are closed on (Unit Training Assembly)
weekends, so typically the kids don't come to the base with
their parents, making it more difficult to connect with the
military community. I think having the AF Reserve Teen
Council gives Ryan a chance to represent all those kids, to
say ‘hey, we're here too, we're part of the military as
Ryan only wishes that other teens in his year
group would see the value of helping others, as he has.
“It really saddens me, because I think if people did
more to help others around them, the world would be a far
better place,” Ryan Pavey said. “Some of it is because there
is a lack of education on what they can do to improve the
lives of others. I wish I could help others help others.”
And as for Ryan's future? He wants to be a
neurosurgeon, and his involvement in the AF Reserve and AF
Teen councils has only solidified those life goals.
“The possibility of being [a neurosurgeon] in the military
has increased,” he said.
Which, for most teens, is a
challenging dream to achieve. But then again, this isn't
your ordinary teenager.
more about Air Force Youth Programs
By U.S. Air Force Maj. Samuel Lee
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