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    50 years of service: Robins records manager reflects on career

    50 years of service: Robins records manager reflects on career

    Photo By Rodney Speed | Col. Brian Moore, 78th Air Base Wing commander, presents a Certificate of Service to...... read more read more



    Story by Holly Logan-Arrington 

    78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

    It’s not every day you get a personal phone call from the Secretary of the Air Force.

    But, Jeanette McElhaney, base records manager in the 78th Communications Directorate’s Knowledge Management Section, did.

    “The call came and of course, I missed it,” she said. “But a message was left, and I called the person back because the number wasn’t blocked.”

    That call, of course, was from then Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett, who had reached out to personally congratulate McElhaney on her 50 years in civil service at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.

    “I called back and we talked for about 15 minutes or more,” she said. “We had a great conversation, as if we knew each other. She made the conversation just that easy.”

    McElhaney said the two discussed her job, hobbies, family and her plans for retirement – a phase of her life she hadn’t given much thought to until now.

    “Just like others, I said I was going to retire as soon as I could, but we see that didn’t happen,” she said. “If you’re doing a job that you enjoy, time slips up on you. If you have a good core team, that also makes a difference.”

    For McElhaney, serving the mission alongside her work family is a pleasure.

    On any given work day, the Perry, Georgia, native works with organizations base wide to ensure the organizations’ users have current Air Force Records Information Management System accounts in order to ensure all of their organizational records are maintained properly.

    McElhaney also preforms staff assistance visits every two years for each unit, conducts monthly training, ensures all record inventories are approved and meet Air Force Instruction 33-322 standards, and ensures electronic records management accounts and permissions are granted to the proper users. This is only a fraction of her duties as the base’s records manager.

    Like many at the base, the 72-year-old got her foot in the door at Robins where she could, working as a temporary employee on base in 1968.
    Later, McElhaney was laid off. After some time, she was rehired and eventually began her civil service career in November 1970.

    “During the late 60’s/early 70’s, working for the federal government was the thing to do,” she said. “I applied for two jobs one – one at the veterans’ hospital in Dublin and one at Robins Air Force Base. I received an interview at Robins, and the rest is history.”

    As a young woman at the time, McElhaney said working for Robins was the right decision.

    “That was a very easy decision to make,” she said. “Work for the federal government or doing factory work in a small town. At that time, as a single parent, you wanted what’s best for you and your child.”

    McElhaney’s civil service career took root in Robins Civil Engineering’s Roads and Grounds Division, where she worked with others, keeping up the grounds around the general’s quarters on base.

    Reflecting on her journey at Robins, McElhaney said there are a few experiences that stand out in her mind.

    “I think the first was becoming a career employee and knowing that I had security within my career,” she said. “Another is being a member of one of the base committees, Mission Is Distribution Identification, which was involved in the building of one of the first buildings of what now is the Museum of Aviation, and working ground work and other special events. I was also appointed as the Federal Women’s Program manager for the installation.”

    McElhaney has proven through her involvement in a variety of organizations that she strived to make a difference wherever she went.
    During her career, McElhaney became a lifetime member of the Federally Employed Women and Blacks In Government organizations. She has also served as a member and an elected officer on the Team Robins Diversity Council who worked to educate the employees of Robins about special emphasis programs.

    McElhaney has also served as a member and officer in the American Federation of Government Employees Union.
    Known by many as a people person, it’s no surprise that McElhaney deems “people” as the best part of her time at the Middle Georgia base.

    “I’ve enjoyed working with and meeting people from various walks of life,” McElhaney said. “During my career, I’ve worked in various positions, some of which have allowed me to travel as a representative of the base. As the Federal Women’s Program manager for the base, I worked with other special emphasis program managers to gather and share information with other employees.”

    McElhaney said her involvement in such programs has enabled her to help shape Robins into the installation it is today.

    Robins has taught McElhaney a couple of lessons along the way, as well.
    “I’ve learned that you can’t always, nor should you, judge people by what others say or do,” she said. “You must learn for yourself. Sometimes, it’s like you have to wait your turn, and sometimes it never comes around. I’ve also learned over the years that you have to make the best of the hand that the dealer deals to you.”

    One thing is for certain – McElhaney has no regrets as she nears the end of her career.

    “I’m not sure I would change a thing,” she said. “Sure, people think that they could’ve or should’ve advanced their careers, but if it was meant to be, it would’ve been, as far as I’m concerned.”

    As McElhaney prepares for retirement, she has a word of advice for others in the midst of their careers.

    “It’s very simple,” she said. “If there is something that you think you want and it will help you advance your career, go for it.”

    Story was originally posted to the Robins Air Force Base web site Feb. 18, 2020, and may be found at



    Date Taken: 02.18.2021
    Date Posted: 02.18.2021 09:44
    Story ID: 389285

    Web Views: 80
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