First car helps build solid foundation

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Gripping the steering wheel and taking a deep breath, he inhaled the new car scent. After months of walking from place to place, the Airman finally had a vehicle to call his own.

On July 25, 2016, U.S. Air Force Airman Joerimer Collado, an individual protective equipment (IPE) specialist with the 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, bought his first car with the help of his supervisor.

“I knew I would need a car when I arrived at my first base, but I was overwhelmed and I didn’t know where to start looking,” said Collado. “My supervisor helped me narrow down my options and he offered to take me out on the weekends to test drive some cars.”

This is just one example of how the IPE element has helped their Airmen transitioning into their new Air Force lifestyle. Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) announced 2017 as the year of the family, which focuses on investing in Airmen to help them overcome challenges and help sustain a resilient Air Force community.

“We are in a profession of arms; this occupation requires a dedication that other occupations don’t,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. Robin Rand, the AFGSC commander. “If we are going to do the job right, if we are going to take care of each other properly, we have to build on a solid foundation.”

The IPE team is made up of Airmen from different countries, such as Peru, Philippines, and Central Africa. It is the camaraderie within the element that has helped lay down this foundation and boost morale.

“Shelf life, gas mask testing, inventory, and weapons cleaning are tasks that should be boring, but they aren’t because I am able to talk to other people while doing it,” said U.S. Air Force Airman Aleandro Pust Cunibertti, a fellow IPE specialist with the 509th LRS.

Pust Cunibertti, also known as PC, was born in Lima, Peru, before moving to Los Angeles at four years old. At the age of 20 he decided to join the military for a stable job, travel and to continue his education.
He joined the IPE team just one month after Collado in July 2016.

However, PC did not have a driver’s license when he enlisted in the Air Force. This gave Collado the opportunity to pay it forward and help out his wingman.

“I really appreciate Collado helping me out by giving me tips and inviting me to practice driving after work once I got my permit,” said PC. “Also, I am thankful for everyone being patient with me through the process and not making me hurry.”

On Oct. 6, 2016, PC was able to obtain his driver’s license.

“Both Airmen are hard workers and dedicated to each individual task that is assigned to them, and they have helped develop great camaraderie within the shop,” said Staff Sgt. Rey Jee Quilla, an IPE specialist with the 509th LRS and Collado and PC’s supervisor. “It is important to invest in your Airmen and help them out with things they need outside of work because the challenges they face in their personal lives can carry over to how they perform the mission.”