CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Senator Eric Lesser hosted a Veterans Day episode of his Lunchtime Livestream series with guest Colonel Joseph D. Janik, Commander of the 439th Airlift Wing on Thursday. 

The conversation was taped at Westover Air Reserve Base and was streamed live on Senator Lesser’s Twitter and Facebook pages in honor of Veterans Day.

You can watch the full interview at either of the links below:

According to a news release sent to 22News from the Office of Senator Eric Lesser, guests included Colonel Joseph D. Janik, Commander of the 439th Airlift Wing, and Chief Master Sergeant Rosaline R. Ratliff, Command Chief of the 439th Airlift Wing at Westover Air Reserve Base.

Colonel Janik talked about his journey to his current position at Westover Air Reserve Base, “a couple of months after [high school] graduation, I joined the active duty air force and was crew chief of maintenance on a retired F-11,” said Col. Janik. 

CMSgt Ratliff, just began her role at Westover at the end of October, and it started in high school watching her mother as a reservist. “Two weeks after graduating high school, I went straight into the Air Force Reserve,” said CMSgt Ratliff. “Both of my parents are retired active duty military. I started my journey in the reserves and did a lot of outside corporate work but in 2009 I came back into the reserve, was on orders, and started this journey. I worked at The Command, The Pentagon, and had some different assignments in between, and my last assignment was at March Air Reserve Base. I’m so fortunate to be part of Team Westover, we have some great airmen here doing some great things.”

Senator Lesser extended his gratitude to reservists and guard members, making reference to his father, Martin Lesser, who is a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Massachusetts National Guard where he was a physician. “Our men and women have done a great job at balancing a three-legged stool: reserves, family, and work,” said Col. Janik. “We have some great citizen airmen that are multi-capable of bringing their civilian skills into the military.”

Westover has an estimated $300 million economic impact locally. There is a new runway that is one of the widest and largest on the east coast. They also provided support to the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan. “Within a matter of hours, we were called by our senior leaders of the country to start moving Afghani refugees out of Afghanistan, mostly with C-17 aircrafts,” said Col. Janik.

Westover Air Reserve Base recently broke ground for new aircraft maintenance hangar. The $46.4 million project is scheduled to be completed by December 2023.

A new 22,544 square foot indoor small-arms range has opened. It was created to train airmen who require certification in the use of up to 45-caliber handguns, 12-gauge shotguns, and rifles up to 7.62mm.

Senator Lesser mentioned the recent passage of  An Act relative to military spouse-licensure portability, education, and enrollment of dependents (S.2558), filed by Senator John Velis. The legislation would help facilitate license portability for military families transferring to military installations in Massachusetts by entering the Commonwealth into a series of interstate licensure compacts and other agreements.

To help show support to those serving in the military, people can look for ways in doing so in their community. “Look to your local communities to see if there’s anything they’re doing like sending care packages and keep them in your prayers.” said CMSgt Ratliff. “I want to especially thank the families, thank you for your support. What we do cannot be done without your love, encouragement, and support on a daily basis.”