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Knowledge is power

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- If anything is ever constant in today's environment, it's change. That's why Master Sgt. Jeff App, the 82nd Training Wing's Career Assistance Advisor, said it's important for enlisted members and even young officers to realize the value his service provides. 

"We're reshaping the Air force to help fund weapon system upgrades," he said. "There are certain career fields that are reducing their numbers; (the Airmen affected) must know they have options." 

He said enlisted members should take advantage of opportunities to retrain or apply for a special duty assignments in recruiting or first sergeant duties, for example. 

Sergeant App isn't just speaking from what he has learned as the career assistance advisor. He's also speaking from experience. 

The Air Force went through a similar downsizing movement in the 1990s to help reduce costs and improve the force's technology. Sergeant App was given the choice to get out or retrain from his security forces job. 

Because of his desire to continue to serve in the Air Force, Sergeant App said he chose to retrain into the pharmacy career field. 

He said the Air Force encourages enlisted members to take on career broadening opportunities and show sustained excellence outside of their career fields. Special duty assignments are a great way to do that. 

"Flexibility is the key to future career success," he said. "Airmen may not be able to stay in their original career field until retirement, requiring retraining at least once. Career changes will be more common." 

That's why Sergeant App said he couldn't stress enough the importance of stopping by for a visit. 

"Losing a good Airman because they aren't provided the right career information, that would be a tragedy," he said. 

Physically visiting with the career assistance advisor to become educated on options might not necessarily be needed, Sergeant App said. He said he has worked diligently on a Web site - located on the Sheppard Portal - to provide as much initial information as possible. 

The Professional Development Center's Community of Practice Web site has information that relates to just about every topic concerning today's Airmen, including financial calculators, seminars, manuals, AFI's and discussion forums. It also provides opportunities to attend professional development seminars. 

"The Web site is a tool to help (Airmen) and their supervisors make sound career decisions and also to make them better," he said. 

The site is also a way for Airmen to provide feedback to him so he will know if they are getting the career guidance they need from frontline supervisors. 

"I'm not trying to take anything away from the frontline supervisors," Sergeant App said. "They are the ones all Airmen should go to first. I am here as a safety net" for Airmen and supervisors alike. 

If squadrons or flights aren't sure what Sergeant App has to offer to the enlisted force, he said he would be more than happy to schedule time to educate Airmen at a commander's call or visit individual shops. 

For more information, visit the PDC's Web site on the Sheppard Portal or call 676-7797. Sergeant App will temporarily move to Bldg. 402, room 332 during the Operational Readiness Inspection.