After Air Force, Seton LaSalle grad serves military through Red Cross
It's been two years since Jason Kalinowski retired from the Air Force, but the Seton LaSalle graduate has continued to give his service to the military as part of the Red Cross.
As a Service to the Armed Forces Manager, Kalinowski coordinates volunteer opportunities and emergency communications for military families stationed in Germany on U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart.
Kalinowski and his family are stationed in Stuttgart at the Panzer Kaserne installation, though he recently has been working on a new project in Poland: opening a new Red Cross office.
For Kalinowski, that means establishing a relationship between the Red Cross and the host military community.
“You have to go out and meet the troops to see what the Red Cross can do to help them,” Kalinowski wrote in an email. “My leadership has granted me some funds to help the health morale and welfare of the military community. Now that I have a good idea of what the troops are looking for, it is time coordinate spending and transport.”
Kalinowski, who grew up in Overbrook and Brookline, served in the Air Force for 23 years before he began working for the Red Cross.
Unsure about college and seeking adventure, he joined after graduating high school and started basic training in early 1993.
Six weeks later, he was sent to technical school at the Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado, to become an avionics technician.
“There I learned the basics and intermediate electronics and specialized training on the avionics systems of the F-15 Eagle Fighter jet. It was exactly what I was looking for in my life, challenge, education and adventure,” he said.
In his first four years of service, Kalinowski would visit nine different countries in Europe, attain the rank of Staff Sergeant, and meet his future wife.
He then moved to the Langley Air Force base in Virginia, where he would be promoted several more times, be deployed to the Middle East and Europe both, and get married.
He served for a time as a first sergeant in which he was responsible for the morale and welfare of a unit. The position would take him from the United States to the United Kingdom to Kuwait before he retired and joined the Red Cross, where his wife had worked for years as a nurse and volunteer.
What he said he finds most gratifying about his second career is the organization's capacity to help others in need. His work, he said, helps military dependents keep their resumes fresh by providing them with volunteer opportunities or recruiting them for Red Cross work themselves.
He likened his current position with the group to that of first sergeant in the Air Force, in which he relayed emergency communications from service members to their superiors or families.
“It is a great feeling to be able to transition from one job I enjoyed in the military to another job in a similar capacity but in a non-military role,” he said. “For me there is no greater feeling than helping people reconnect with loved ones, provide guidance or reassurance during times of stress and provide the resources necessary to get through a tough situation.”
Matthew Guerry is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.