Checking in with Airmen's Council

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- If there is one piece of advice supervisors often give to their Airmen during initial feedback sessions, it is this - Go out and volunteer.

While this may seem easy enough to a more experienced NCO, it can be challenging for an Airman who is still new to base and struggling to meet and interact with new people.

That is where the Airmen's Council comes in.

The Airmen's Council is a beneficial resource for E-4s and below that helps Airmen with everything ranging from CLEP test study groups and volunteering at the local veterans' home to helping them organize bullets for an upcoming EPR, said Airman 1st Class Lawrence La Strape, 509th MDOS bio-environmental engineer and Airmen's Council president.

"Overall, the Airmen's Council is here to serve the Airmen," La Strape said. "We also provide an opportunity to bring Airmen together professionally and socially, as well as enhance and further develop them to maintain success throughout their careers."

The social aspect of getting to know fellow Airmen he would not normally interact with is a plus for Airman 1st Class Matthew Hines, 509th MDOS bio-environmental engineer and Airmen's Council community activities officer.

"It's a big part of Airmen's Council," Hines said. "It gives us lots of opportunities to see things in a new way."

The Airmen's Council also plans events for Airmen to partake in, such as barbeques and trips to the Lake of the Ozarks, said Airman 1st Class Lorena Guerra, 509th CEPT engineer and one of the Airmen's Council's public affairs officers.

"We're working on getting laser tag going," Guerra said. "We want to show the Airmen that there is more to do than just sit in their dorm room because they don't have a car or a means of transportation."

Another added benefit of the Airmen's Council is getting to meet and interact with base leadership, said La Strape.

"We see how events are planned and set up," La Strape said. "It makes us want to put in more effort because we see all of their efforts and everything that goes into an event. Meeting our leadership gives us a chance to see how things are handled at their levels."

The Airmen's Council board highly encourages anyone interested in the council to contact them and get involved.

"We want all Airmen to know we are here for them," La Strape said. "We want to help them with any issues they may have, or any things they want to see at Whiteman Air Force Base or in the community. We're here to help."

If an Airman wishes to be a part of the council board, they can run for several positions. Elections are held twice a year.

"Airmen wanting to be on the board need to show consistent involvement and commitment," La Strape said. "I started off as secretary and worked my way up through volunteering and putting forth ideas when no one else would."

The Airmen's Council leadership is reflective of Airmen's priorities, said La Strape.

"The degree of involvement or isolation is dictated by the enthusiasm of the Airmen involved," La Strape said. "Airmen who take a lot of initiative, have good charisma and overall just have good leadership qualities are usually the type we look for when selecting officers."

Even though the board looks for outgoing Airmen, they do encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zones and get involved.

"The Airmen's Council ultimately aims to help, develop, defend and in any way look out for Airmen," La Strape said. "We all miss our families and we're all far from home, so we might as well stick together and help each other succeed."

The Airmen's Council holds meetings every other Thursday, with the next one scheduled for April 25, 2013. The meetings are held at 3:45 p.m. in the Professional Development Center, Room 214.