ANNVILLE, Pa., April 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania's adjutant general and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), personally congratulated the 171st Air Refueling Wing (ARW) for earning the 2018 Outstanding Unit Award and discussed with the airmen the importance of Governor Tom Wolf's proposed PA GI Bill, or Military Family Education Program (MFEP).
The 171st ARW is one of the three Air National Guard wings assigned to Pennsylvania. For the first time in Pennsylvania history, all three PA wings earned 2018 United States Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards signifying them as exceptional performers throughout the entire Air Force. The other two wings are the 111th Attack Wing in Horsham and the 193rd Special Operations Wing in Middletown.
"All of the units in today's Air Force are greatly tasked and each are critical to our national security," said Carrelli. "It is especially rewarding, however, when one of our units are selected as best of the best. We could not be happier for the entire 171st team including our families who have served and sacrificed to make this one of the premier wings within our Air Force. Congratulations to the entire wing and thank you for your outstanding service to our Commonwealth and this nation."
The primary mission of the 171st ARW is to provide in-flight refueling to Department of Defense and NATO aircraft and also support the homeland defense mission on a daily basis. The wing also transports cargo and passengers worldwide.
Award citation highlights include the 171st supporting more than 200 aircraft missions, issuing over 400,000 pounds of fuel and processing more than 40 short tons of cargo. Additionally, 311 wing members were recognized for their performance during the 2017 Nuclear Operational Readiness Inspection as well as the wing being lauded by the commander of Strategic Command for its near flawless execution of the mission during the exercise.
Carrelli also spoke about the importance of Gov. Wolf's proposed PA GI Bill that would enable members of the Pennsylvania National Guard to earn college benefits for their spouse and children. It would be the first program of its kind in the nation if passed by the PA General Assembly.
"Our families serve and sacrifice right alongside of our guardsmen," said Carrelli. "Spouses often must put their own lives on hold, foregoing career opportunities, putting off education advancement, or quality family time to deal with the rigors of military life. Children often forfeit normal family interactions at home, special events, and holidays because of demanding military duty schedules. Providing an educational opportunity for our families is one way to show them how grateful Pennsylvania is for their personal sacrifice."
In addition to supporting military family members, this program would also improve PNG retention and strengthen its readiness.
"The PNG is comprised of highly trained soldiers and airmen who are experts in their specialty areas and are frequently called for federal or state duty. It's critical to Pennsylvania and the nation that we retain these talented men and women," said Carrelli. "This is a great re-enlistment incentive for these service members who are not only protecting commonwealth and country, but also want to secure a bright future for their family."
The education benefit would be available to PNG members and existing service members transferring into the PNG who completed their initial military term and commit to an additional six years of PNG service. The program will provide for 10 semesters of tuition-free education for family member(s). The benefit must be used at a Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) approved educational institution, and at the tuition rate set by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
Currently, PNG members are eligible for the Education Assistance Program with their initial service obligation of six years that provides them a non-transferable educational benefit.
MEDIA CONTACT: Joan Nissley, Office: 717-861-8720, Cell: 717-821-4562
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs