The ANG, part of the family business

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Angela Stebbins
  • 157ARW PA
Family business is what it is all about for this mother and son team. Both owning and operating their own business and both serving here at Pease as traditional Guardsmen is what they would call a smart business plan.

It all started when Thomas E. Demers called to request information about the Air National Guard (ANG) when he was still a senior in high school, and Master Sgt. Ronald Connary made a house call to oblige.

During this visit Connary described life in the Guard and highlighted some of the benefits that come with it. Bonnie A. Demers, Thomas's mother was also listening in. She listened in as a mother, and as a prior military person herself. She was hoping to help her son make the right decisions, and being a former active duty Navy and former Navy wife, she was curious to hear how the Air Guard compared.

Thomas joined the unit in 2008, still in his senior year of high school under the delayed entry program and is now a Senior Airman in the Heavy Equipment shop.

Bonnie said, "When MSgt. Connary came to our house to speak with Tom about joining the Air National Guard I was awestruck! He represents the Guard in such a proud positive manner that I was sold right from the beginning." She too joined the unit as a result of that visit. Now, Staff Sgt. Bonnie Demers works here in personnel as a human resources specialist with the 133 Air Refueling Squadron, Command Support Staff (ARS/CSS).

Even though Thomas joined while still in high-school, it was still all about business. Self proclaiming himself as the typical senior not knowing exactly what he wanted to do after high school, or where to start, he found his answer in the mail when he received a promotional flyer from the Air Guard highlighting a then $20,000 sign on bonus.

Thomas said, "I had wanted to continue my Landscaping business but didn't know how I would cover the business loans right out of high school, so the bonus money was a real pusher," he continued. "I had also wanted to serve in the military since both my parents had served Active mom as a Ship's Serviceman and my dad, Richard, retired from the Navy as a Submarine Sonar Technician."

He explained that the combination of Pease having such a welcoming family atmosphere and his joining being such a smart business move as to what ultimately won him over. "Once MSgt. Connary brought me around the base and showed me the area in which I would be working I was blown away by the people and how everything just seemed to fit together. There was a big family atmosphere that just rubbed off on me."

Thomas now owns and operates his own landscaping business and is fulfilling his dream. His company is Tom Demers Mowing and Landscaping out of Lisbon, N.H. and he is CDL-A certified, OSHA, Dig Safe and DOT Medical Card compliant as well as a USAF Dirt Boyz Certified Operator. "I am a heavy equipment operator in the military and a heavy equipment operator with my company, so it works great for me. They both complement one another. I love the Guard and I love what I do for my customers, equally."

Bonnie is the proud owner of the Bethlehem Village Store located on Main Street in Bethlehem NH. She said "It is a small store with a big heart." She has owned the store since June of 2006.

While she was serving in the Navy, Bonnie was a ship's serviceman, which involved working in the ship's store as well as working in the commissary stores. She credits much of her training she received while in this Navy career field as what led her to owning her own store now.

Now, Bonnie accredits working with the Officers here to helping her bring back strong leadership skills to her store and the ability to show her employees that what they do is very important and that they are a part of a team.

"The idea of finishing out my military retirement and having access to the medical and dental benefits was also very appealing" she said. "I truly like being here," she continued, "It gives me a break from my routine with the store and gives me a sense of accomplishment."

Looking at their long term business plans, they both are looking to stay in the Guard through to retirement, of which they can receive after twenty years of service. Tom said, "I do plan on staying through retirement, maybe longer. Today's economy is a big 'pusher' to stay in. The military benefits for family medical and dental are just unheard of. I can't say it enough."