Team Whiteman: Leading the way in developing future leaders

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WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. – Commissioning offers enlisted service members the chance to advance their careers and allows the military to promote talented members from within.

The United States Air Force offers multiple paths for enlisted members who wish to commission and become an officer.

One path is for enlisted members to apply to Officer Training School.

The Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program allows Air Force senior leaders to directly select Airmen they deem exceptional and send them to OTS. SLECP is extremely competitive and only a few candidates are chosen every year.

“This was my third application to get selected,” said Tech. Sgt. Steven Stuer, 509th Commander’s Support Staff special actions manager. “Only 26 people were selected this past year, and finding out I was one of them was quite the shock.”

Stuer was not only chosen for commissioning through SLECP but he was also selected to attend Undergraduate Pilot Training following OTS, an opportunity that even fewer people get.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Stuer. “I’ve worked very hard to get here and it hasn’t always been easy, and seeing that hard work rewarded in this way, I couldn’t be more grateful.”

But Stuer wasn’t the only Team Whiteman member selected for SLECP as Tech. Sgt. Tyler Goheens, 393rd Bomb Squadron intelligence non-commissioned officer in charge, was also selected.

“This is a truly awesome opportunity, and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to further my education in this way, said Goheens. “I applied for SLECP Alpha, which will allow me to go to school and finish my degree while still receiving active duty pay and benefits,”

There are other options for enlisted members interested in OTS. Members can also apply to an OTS board, which is also highly selective. Two other members of Team Whiteman were recently selected for commissioning following this path.

“One of the biggest things you’ll need is a letter of recommendation from your chain of command,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Tutolo, 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron specialist section chief, who was selected by the Air Force OTS board. “You could say that the people who know you best play a huge part in if you make it or not.”

Master Sgt. David Bunn, 509th Bomb Wing innovation office program manager, was also selected during an OTS board but he won’t be staying with the Air Force.

“I applied to the Space Force OTS board,” said Bunn. “A lot of Airmen don’t even realize that is an option. It’s even more competitive than the Air Force OTS board and I was extremely fortunate to make it.”

No matter how an enlisted member commissions, they each offer their own unique well of experience that makes them invaluable to the officer corps.

“Prior enlisted members who earn their commission have a unique insight and perspective on how decisions impact our enlisted force,” said Col. Kieth Butler, 509th Bomb Wing commander, who himself is a prior enlisted Airman. “They also bring experience to their first day on the job as a second lieutenant and are welcomed by our service.”

Other paths that enlisted members can take include applying to the United States Air Force Academy or joining the Air Force Reserve to attend college in the ROTC before returning to active-duty status.

Ultimately, Airmen are the Air Force’s greatest strength and harnessing and retaining the experience of enlisted members enhances that strength.