Shadow program gives big-picture view to Airmen



by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs


3/25/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Maxwell-Gunter Airman shadow program offers junior enlisted Airmen a unique opportunity to shadow a command chief. The program is sponsored by the Junior Enlisted Advisory Council, or JEAC, which offers guidance for future career and life success to junior enlisted Airmen.

Programs like the Airman shadow program offer personalized mentorship opportunities, according to Staff Sgt. Ashley Lathem, Junior Enlisted Advisory Council president.

"This is an opportunity for one-on-one mentorship as well as familiarization with the respective headquarters operation and staffing processes," she said. "The program directly impacts the members' awareness of the 'big picture' as well as allowing the highest level of enlisted mentoring available."

Candidates are selected based on the whole-person concept. This includes the Airman's leadership skills, specific achievements, job performance, education, breadth of experience and professional competence.

Even though the program is in its infancy, it has already impacted Airmen. Staff Sgt. Tess Kelley, quality assurance manager for Air University financial management, shadowed Chief Master Sgt. Brye McMillon, the Air University command chief. Her time with Chief McMillon helped her think critically, she said.

"We had lots of conversations about different aspects of what is going on in the military, my Air Force career and my personal life," she said. "After everything we did, he would ask me questions that made me think about the answer. It kept me on my toes."

The program gave Sergeant Kelly the opportunity to appreciate a more strategic view of the Air Force.

"It definitely opened my mind to think outside of the box about a variety of issues," she said. "I actually got to see a bigger scope of what goes on in the Air Force other than my day-to-day finance job."

The program has received positive feedback, according to Sergeant Lathem. Airmen not only learned more about their chiefs, they learned how to broaden their career goals.

In addition to the 42nd Air Base Wing and the Air University command chiefs, the program also allows Airmen to shadow local Guard and Reserve chiefs, which helps participants to understand how their missions affect the success of the total force, she said.

The program already has benefited junior enlisted Airmen, and the JEAC hopes to see that continued.

"I hope to continue to get the word out and receive supervisory support so that all of our deserving Airmen have the opportunity to spend time with a command chief," Sergeant Lathem said.