Building Better Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Adam Olson
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The United States Air Force continuously strives to grow and develop Airmen, whether they choose to become career-length or short-term service members.

In order to facilitate professional growth, Airmen have a wide assortment of programs and personnel resources at their disposal

Master Sgt. Keith Heimericks, the 28th Bomb Wing career assistance advisor, is the sole career advisor for Ellsworth. For the last two years, he has worked with Ellsworth Airmen to aid in achieving their personal and professional goals.  

“My effectiveness, not just as a [Career Assistance Advisor] but as a senior [Non-Commissioned Officer] is ‘how well did I train and equip your generation?’” Heimericks said.

The focus for Heimericks is training and education. He both develops and delivers various professional development courses to Airmen throughout the year

One such course is the Supervisor 101 course, targeted specifically at Senior Airmen. This course focuses on leadership skills and the ability to direct and inspire those one has been appointed to lead. In addition to courses and programs dedicated to improving an Airman’s performance in the Air Force, there are effective programs in place for those who do not wish to make themselves career service members.

Heimericks says there are two indispensable programs, for airmen who plan on leaving the Air Force the Tuition Assistance Program and the Skill Bridge Program. Both of these programs are made to aid in the transition back to the civilian workforce and Heimericks urges everyone not to procrastinate the use of these programs.

“If you are in [The Transition Assistance Program] and you are just learning about how to transition, you are way behind the power curve,” Heimericks said.

The Tuition Assistance Program Grants Airmen $4,500 dollars per year to dedicate to furthering their education. Heimericks suggests orienting your education for whatever will be fulfilling once you eventually move on, he has seen others receive education for subjects that do not interest them.

“When they get out of the military they might land a job because of the education they received but they’re not happy with it,” Heimericks said.

The other program, Skill Bridge, is a unique opportunity for Airmen who are close to their date of separation. The program allows Airmen to use the last six months of their time in service in an internship with a company of their choice. While working with industry leaders, Airmen undergo career development and training with employers who seek the skills and quality of character Instilled in Airmen.

“You’re giving civilian companies the world’s best talent, there are no other organizations in the entire world that train leaders like the United States military, facts,” Heimericks said.

In order to fully utilize and get the most from the Air Force experience, Master Sgt. Heimericks has recommendations.

“As soon as you’re done with your [Career Development Courses] and your upgrade training, you need to pull out some [Air Force Instructions] and some [Technical Orders] and you need to learn your J.O.B.” Heimericks said.

Mastery of an Air Force Specialty Code and working well with others are paramount in one’s personal growth, according to Heimericks.  Once these two skills have been mastered Heimericks suggests Pursuing a degree in a subject you enjoy learning about.

As one’s Air Force career progresses, growth will be required in order to further goals. How one grows and what kind of growth is inspired will depend on the drive and decisions made as time goes on. Master Sgt. Heimericks suggests you focus on your future.

“Follow your dreams,” Heimericks said. “Use the Air Force as your platform to get to your ‘why.’, what it is  you are super passionate about, but while you are in the Air Force, never forget how unbelievably important you are…You’re going to hang the uniform up and you are going to be proud of what you did,”.

Heimericks boasts he is available 24/7-365 for Airmen. To contact the Career Assistant Advisor, call 385-2367 or visit the Rushmore Center. Heimricks also encourages any Airmen seeking career assistance to visit the Ellsworth Career Assistance Advisor Facebook page.