Matney becomes first Robins A&FRC civilian to deploy

  • Published
  • By Wayne Crenshaw
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
For four years Lisa Matney has worked at Robins to help troops and their families prepare for deployment, but her experience during the past two months has given her new perspective on her job.

This time, Ms. Matney is the deployee. She is the first civilian from the Airman and Family Readiness Center at Robins to deploy. She volunteered for a four-month assignment to go to an Air Force base in Southwest Asia - she couldn't be any more specific about the location - to give Airmen and other military personnel the same help that she does back at Robins.

"The work is the same but everything else is totally different," she said in a recent phone interview from her deployed location. "I'm getting a better understanding of what our military members are going through when they get ready for deployment."

She sleeps in a 10x10 room without its own restroom and works 12-hour days, six days per week.

"The niceties of being at home are what you miss, besides your family," she said. "This is the most I've been away from my family in my entire life."

Ms. Matney has worked at Robins for a total of 15 years, having previously been a maintainer. But she wanted to work more directly with troops so she went to college, got a bachelor's degree and later a master's in marriage and family therapy. When an opening came up in the A&FRC, she took it.

"Lisa is a go-getter," said Christine Parker, director of the A&FRC. "She came from a maintenance background, but as much as she loved that job and environment and ensuring that everything was there for the warfighter, she wanted to do more to help the families. She just has a heart for people. She has a gift of being able to get to the heart of matters and knowing what people need."

Ms. Matney helps Airmen and their families with such things as financial counseling and preseparation counseling. She also teaches a variety of classes. Although she deals only with Airmen at Robins, she has helped troops from other services on her deployment. She has found troops in the AOR to be in good spirits.

"Everybody over here has a positive attitude," she said. "They are not down in the trenches saying this is just horrible."

In the two months she has been there, she has seen six Soldiers become parents. 

"Their wives were on the phone talking to them while they were delivering their child," she said.

Her work has gotten some notice. She was named the November Civilian of the Month for the 379th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron.

When she gets back in two months, she will have a new assignment. She has been selected to be an adjunct professor at Air University. For 15 months she will travel periodically to the school at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. to teach classes for people doing what she does in A&FRC.

Ms. Matney said she has been grateful for the experience she has had in her deployment and is glad she took the assignment. She wasn't sure she wants to do it again but said she would if there was a need. One thing that is certain is she has learned to appreciate a lot of little things that people take for granted.

"That's hard to even describe," she said when asked about the things she misses about life back home. "The fact of even being able to walk on carpet... you sit there and think about these things. Like getting out to work in the yard, raking up pine straw and leaves is going to be the least of my worries because at least I am going to be able to see a tree. It's almost to the point where you can't even put words to it. I miss everybody back home. It truly is the land of the free."