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Air National Guard Family Fueled By A Tradition
by TN Air National Guard SrA Yonette Martin
March 15, 2024

In a candid interview, enthusiasm and a legacy of service were evident as Airman Hannah Meier, a personnelist assigned to the 118th Force Support Squadron, shared her perspective on why she joined the Tennessee Air National Guard (TNANG).

While Meier may be a new member of the ANG, she is no stranger to its rich culture of creating bonds by establishing relationships with others who are pursuing a common goal. Through her eyes as a child, the military has always been a “family” business.

“I've been coming out here for as long as I can remember,” said Meier, reminiscing on the days she visited the wing, innocently acquainting herself with base personnel. “They always came and talked to me … It just really created that family bond, and growing up in a military family, I wanted to keep it like that.”

With a family deeply rooted in service at the 118th Wing, including her grandfather, mother, and uncle, Meier recognized the profound influence of her lineage.

May 23, 2023 - U.S. Air Force Airman Hannah Meier, a personnelist assigned to the 118th Force Support Squadron, alongside her mother, Senior Master Sgt. Christy Driscoll, the senior enlisted leader assigned to the 218th Intelligence Support Squadron, and uncle, 1st Lt. Joshua Dickens, comptroller of the 118th Comptroller Flight, at the 118th Wing headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Roberto Mercado.)
May 23, 2023 - U.S. Air Force Airman Hannah Meier, a personnelist assigned to the 118th Force Support Squadron, alongside her mother, Senior Master Sgt. Christy Driscoll, the senior enlisted leader assigned to the 218th Intelligence Support Squadron, and uncle, 1st Lt. Joshua Dickens, comptroller of the 118th Comptroller Flight, at the 118th Wing headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Roberto Mercado.)

"One of those things I'd say growing up is seeing how strong the family is together," Meier said, reflecting on the values instilled by her predecessors.

Her mother, Senior Master Sgt. Christy Driscoll, the senior enlisted leader assigned to the 218th Intelligence Support Squadron, expressed pride in her daughter's decision to join. "It is a very proud tradition that's been passed down," she said, underscoring the significance of Meier continuing the legacy. “My father, Chief Master Sgt. Carroll Dickens, was active duty, and transferred into the guard here and retired as a chief. I, too, grew up on this base, so there’s never been a question as to where we go or which branch.”

To many, the appeal of the ANG is a family that stands ready to offer support and encouragement. “From a cultural perspective, we're much more organized and cohesive,” said Driscoll. “From a parent's perspective, it’s the branch that's going to treat you with respect.”

Driscoll recalls relying on her father’s leadership when she enlisted. “He is my mentor, he was who I went to,” she said. “It was nice to just be able to walk over to (his office) and talk something out with him. Having that familial tie in the military is a great resource you don't always get where you work.”

The quest for knowledge didn’t stop with her grandfather and mother. Her uncle, 1st Lt. Joshua Dickens, comptroller of the 118th Comptroller Flight, also put a mark on her, creating a special bond between the two. When Meier raised her right hand during the oath of enlistment ceremony, it was Dickens who swore her in.

Dickens emphasized the importance of providing guidance, while allowing Meier to create her own path. "It's just giving her advice, helping her think through her options, and then letting her make her own decisions," he said.

"In the Air National Guard, your reputation is important,” Dickens continued. “The Airmen she's coming in with are the future of the wing. The relationships she builds and work ethic she shows now will impact her entire career because every day is a job interview."

Now experiencing life as a drill-status Guardsman, Meier has already started building her own reputation by being an honor graduate at Basic Military Training, a distinguished graduate at tech school, and the 118th Mission Support Group’s Airman of the Quarter for 2nd Quarter of 2023.

“There's going to be a lot of things that may distract her from her goals,” said Dickens as he reflected on the Air Force values of discipline and service before self. “Stay focused on what your goal actually is and that will be the catalyst to get her there and other ways to serve a greater good.”

Meier is confident about balancing her military service and academic pursuits. "My education and service are important," she said, outlining her commitment to the value of “Excellence is All We Do.” “I hope to gain those same leadership skills (as my family) and be able to take control to help me build a foundation for my career.”

Meier, a student in veterinarian science at the University of Tennessee - Martin, revealed that her decision to join the ANG was also fueled by the growing costs of college tuition, highlighting the financial support offered by the Tennessee STRONG (Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen) Act.

The Tennessee STRONG Act is a tuition reimbursement program that provides eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard funding toward their first bachelor’s degree. The Guard offers many educational opportunities for those who protect and serve the state and country.
With a legacy of service spanning generations, Meier’s enlistment symbolizes not only a personal commitment but also a continuation of a cherished family tradition within the TNANG.

"I'm very excited for this. I think I'm going to learn a lot and become a better version of myself," Meier concluded, looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

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