Mentoring and maintaining dorm life

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Being an Airman Dorm Leader (ADL) has more to it than most people realize. With assistance from the first sergeants, dorm counsels and residents, the ADLs enhance the quality of life for the Airmen living in the dormitories at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

This special duty assignment is open to staff sergeants and is a two year tour with an option to extend one year. It involves an application process to ensure the individual is qualified for the job. Acceptance is based on the Special Duty Catalog along with the applicant’s leadership recommendation. During this process, the ADL superintendent, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Beau Piper, will interview the applicant to see if that person is appropriate to be an ADL.

The three ADLs at Whiteman keep busy with five filled dormitories. While they manage the facilities for the residents, they are also there to help mentor the Airmen in the dorms. If the Airmen are having issues with anything, they are encouraged to go to an ADL. If the ADL is unable to provide guidance, he or she can escort the individual to someone more experienced for advice.

“Mentoring Airmen is the most rewarding part of the job,” said Staff Sgt. Nikolas Westland, an ADL assigned to the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES). “Us ADLs like sharing our past experiences with new residents because there’s plenty to teach them about the military, dorm life and living on their own.”

Along with mentoring first-term Airmen, the ADLs are facility managers who need to have a basic understanding of plumbing, structures, grounds keeping, custodial arts, furniture repair, appliance workings, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). The ADLs complete work order requests and send them to the 509th CES Customer Service to ensure facilities get repaired as needed.

“In this career field, we are a jack-of-all-trades,” said Westland. “It’s not unusual for us to be fixing furniture, locks, plumbing, drywall, paint, landscaping or diagnosing HVAC issues.”

ADLs also stay busy by in-processing and out-processing Airmen every week, answering phone calls and emails, and briefing new comers on expectations in the dorms.

“This special duty is beneficial to one’s career because it involves networking,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Miller, an ADL assigned to the 509th CES.
The ADLs work with the first sergeants and base leadership to ensure the residents get what they need. With this job ADLs get to know the Airmen while helping them transition to the military lifestyle and living on their own.

“I’ve been an ADL since October 2016,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lawter, an ADL assigned to the 509th CES. “This special duty helps me because I can step outside my normal career path and see something a little different. When I go back to my previous career, I will have more knowledge and experience.”

Every special duty assignment allows an individual to grow as a leader and learn new skills. ADLs are the people who residents turn to when they need help with anything. With their personal experiences, ADLs are able to guide Airmen as they settle into a new base and the military.