Airman's council strives for unified purpose

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
An Airman's council is a forum for junior enlisted to learn and grow as a base-wide team. Regular activities include volunteerism, social events and guest speaker visits, all for the purpose of enhancing the prestige, responsibility, and professional development of junior Airmen.

On top of this, the Keesler Airman's Council aspires to establish itself as a conduit for change and unity, according to the executive council leaders.

"We're here for the Airmen," said Airman 1st Class Crystal Starner, council president from the 81st Medical Operations Squadron. "We need to be people who step up to get things done for the Airmen, and that's what we hope to do."

As of Nov. 5, the Keesler Airman's Council will move to having meetings once a month at the Bay Breeze Event Center. The group provides a platform for Airmen to voice their concerns and get involved on base in a multitude of functions including volunteering, event planning and professional development. A one-year membership costs $10, and requires attendance of monthly meetings and participation in council events.

Starner said she's working with long-time participant Senior Airman Austin Conners, vice president, to make the council more than a bullet point for Airmen.

"We want Airmen to remember their time at Keesler fondly," said Conners, 81st Inpatient Operations Squadron. "The purpose of the council is to take care of each other and improve with each other; we are the future of the Air Force. This is the best base in the Air Force. We want our council to be the best as well."

All junior Airmen are invited to attend meetings and functions, regardless of membership. Everyone has the chance to be heard, the Airman's Council officers said.

"The council provides me with the opportunity to have a voice," said Airman 1st Class Yarie Duenas, council secretary from the 81st Dental Squadron. "Sometimes it is hard to be heard as an Airman, but through the council, we are able to gather and present ideas up the chain of command and make a difference."

Connection with the chain of command is expedited by liaisons with the TOP III, 5/6 and First Sergeant Associations. These points of contact for the Senior NCO and NCO private organizations are committed to supporting the activities and needs of the junior enlisted, said Starner.

"We sit in on meetings to answer questions and guide the council executive board," said Master Sgt. Shane McDonald, TOP III liaison with the 81st Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron. "We are the Airmen's channel of communication to base leadership."

Although the Airman's Council is assisted by the senior enlisted associations and others, its power is still driven by Airmen, said McDonald.

The council is steered by its executive board representatives who reflect the shared priorities of the Airman's Council as a whole.

"My favorite part of being on the council would definitely be all of the volunteer opportunities to help not only the Airmen, but also the community," said Airman 1st Class Nicole Hutton, merchandise monitor from the 81st IPTS, whose response is common among the council.

The Keesler Airman's Council hopes to broaden its influence through its unity, but it will take involvement from everyone, said Starner.

"There are a lot of responsibilities to the leadership roles of the council," said Starner. "I'm constantly learning something new from the Airmen, how different people work together and how to use every personality to get the mission completed."

Conners fills his role as vice president by guiding his fellow executive officers, said Starner.

Other members of the council's executive board are Airmen 1st Class Oliver Jackson, treasurer; Bianca Wade, events coordinator, and Joseph Jackson, public affairs representative. Each position is elected on a bi-yearly basis.

The council provides opportunities for wing- level responsibilities that can be taken on by any junior Airman who wants to get involved, said Conners.

"I get the privilege of not worrying about bullets or awards," he added. "It's about making a difference with and for Airmen. We give them opportunities to lead functions and become more involved in the network."

Concerns for change, ideas for volunteerism and fundraising, recognition of accomplishments and general announcements are discussed by all during the regularly scheduled, monthly meetings.

"I see unlimited potential from the new council," said Tech. Sgt. Geoffery Gagnon, 5/6 representative with the 81st Training Support Squadron. "They will build the Airmen's Council back to being a force of nature instead of a monthly obligation."

The Keesler Airman's Council will host a membership drive 2 p.m., Nov. 7, at the marina park. The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held 4 p.m., Dec 3, at the Bay Breeze Event Center, function Room 2.