There's no AFSC for that?<br> Part two -- career assistance advisors

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Heather Heiney
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Note: This is the second in a series about people at Keesler in special duty positions outside of their primary Air Force specialty code.

Air Force benefits can be like a street sign in the fog you know they're there but you can't really comprehend them. Career assistance advisors serve a special duty position to help supervisors and the base populace understand the benefits and opportunities available to Air Force members.

Senior Master Sgt. Steven Mullens, Keesler's career assistance advisor, said he is one of only 84 CAAs in the Air Force and has volunteered for the duty twice in his career.
Mullens said that he relates his duties to a triangle -- one side is benefits and compensation, one side is career progression and the last side is professional development. All the required duties of a CAA fall into at least one segment of that triangle.

Some tasks include advising commanders and supervisors on retention issues; creating learning opportunities including seminars, NCO professional enhancement, senior NCO professional enhancement and first term Airmen center programs; overseeing informed decision briefings; helping, determining addressing local factors that might negatively influence career decisions and assisting supervisors in counseling enlisted personnel on their options.

Mullens said that while CAAs are not personnelists, they work together with the military personnel section to educate the base populace on force management programs.
"My focus is to educate and develop our supervisors because we use them as force multipliers," Mullens said.

Chief Master Sgt. Robert Nolan, Mathies NCO Academy commandant, was formerly the first term airmen center and CAA program manager for Pacific Air Forces. He said CAAs are a tool for supervisors to fill in gaps of understanding on the Air Force benefits fact sheet and the career opportunities available to Airmen.

"CAAs provide a critical role to make sure personnel programs are understood," the chief said.

Mullens said that the availability of CAAs has been cyclical over the years. The position has been eliminated and reinstated on several occasions and at one time, every individual unit had a CAA assigned to it.

While there is a CAA at nearly every main operating base, including short tour locations, most geographically separated units don't have one. The special duty is a three-year tour with the option to extend for a fourth year.

To be a CAA, one must volunteer for the program; be recommended by his or her commander; be a master sergeant with at least one year time in grade or a senior master sergeant with a minimum 7 skill-level; have counseling and briefing skills; completed senior NCO academy; pass the fitness test; excel in appearance, military bearing, and conduct; complete a Community College of Air Force degree; and have an overall enlisted performance report rating of 5 on last three enlisted performance reports.

"It's so rewarding to watch people's eyes light up when they hear about something that affects them in a personal way," Mullens said. "I was doing a unit visit with a squadron a few months ago. Their first sergeant attended and within eight minutes I was able to let her know she should have received a (selective re-enlistment bonus). She was given $12,000."

Mullens said that he chose to be a CAA so he could set others up for successful and fulfilling Air Force careers.