The Civil Air Patrol stands ready to help in times of need and emergency. But it’s also an organization where veteran volunteers help young people get their dreams off the ground.
The Peachtree City Falcon Field Squadron’s 134 cadets, ages 12 through 18, learn about leadership, aerospace, fitness and character development, and participate in emergency services missions. At 18, cadets become senior members and some continue in the program to eventually become leaders.
That’s what happened with CAP Commander and Air Force veteran Lt. Col. Joel Seidband, who joined as a 12-year-old kid who loved flying and now wants to give back to the organization that gave him so much, including a sense of discipline and belonging. He wants cadets to learn skills to help them no matter what their futures hold and to be part of something bigger than themselves. “I want them to have the confidence to be leaders in their professions, vocations or communities.”
Although not all CAP volunteers are veterans, Cadet Capt. Landen Baynard said it’s amazing to have veterans who devote their time. “The effort and determination they put forth make our squadron one of the most unique in the nation, as well as one of the most unique youth programs in the nation,” he said.
Cadet 2nd Lt. Justin Hall agrees. “Working with veterans in CAP has shown me the quality of our American service members, and helped me understand our nation's military.”
Every cadet is eligible for powered and glider orientation flights—fun for cadets as well as Air Force veteran Lt. Col. David Serafin. He joined with his son, but stayed after his son graduated “because CAP is a great way to serve and have fun–a win/win,” he said. “I am very impressed by many of our amazing young people, and it is an honor to help broaden the horizons and help improve the leadership skills of the leaders of tomorrow.”
Not all veteran volunteers are Air Force veterans. Navy veteran Maj. Angela Bartow Best, deputy commander for cadets, joined CAP soon after her daughter. She likes that cadets can learn to be servant leaders with integrity without the fear of making mistakes and wants them to take pride in doing the right thing because it is right and not because they will earn a reward. Best finds the cadets creative, able to take constructive feedback and eager to mentor others. “They show up every week despite having homework, projects or other extracurricular activity.”
During emergency services missions, CAP members use what they’ve learned in real-world situations providing air and ground support for federal, state and local agencies. Recent missions have included patrolling the airspace around Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII, participating in Aircraft Emergency Locator Transmitter searches, providing aerial photography crews for disaster surveys after Hurricane Dorian and assisting with a missing person search.
For more information about the Civil Air Patrol visit www.peachtreecity.cap.gov.