E-Symposium offers Airmen informational opportunities

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg's Enlisted Symposium began Tuesday at the Pacific Coast Club offering enlisted members an opportunity to get some valuable information about career progression and decisions. 

The symposium kicked off with opening remarks from Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Gordon, 30th Space Wing command chief master sergeant. 

"This symposium's purpose is that no Vandenberg enlisted personnel will separate or retire from the military without having a degree or the knowledge of how to become a senior noncommissioned officer," Chief Gordon said. 

The symposium honored that by providing briefings on some primary concerns to Airmen including legal matters, financial, deployment and education. 

On the expo side of the symposium, which included booths from more than ten organizations around base, representatives from the education center were available for immediate conferences regarding personal education matters and decision making. 

"The base education department has really been a highlight of this symposium," said Master Sgt. David Allen, a career development course author with the 532nd Training Squadron. 

"I've witnessed Airmen approach the base education stand to find out that they already have a Community College of the Air Force degree or are only a few credits shy of their degree," he said. 

Higher education isn't just important; it could also be the deciding factor when being considered for promotion or recognition. 

A records review board was available as a tool for Vandenberg's senior enlisted members working toward promotion to senior and chief master sergeant. 

Sergeant Allen participated in the review. 

"The records review board gave me a better insight as to what the board members would be looking for when I'm being considered for promotion," he said. "I feel a lot more confident about my records now because the board showed me what my strengths were and hit on what I needed to improve on." 

Chief Master Sgt. Kerry Porter, 30th Space Communications Squadron, has sat on many records review boards and knows exactly what to look for when considering an applicant for a senior NCO promotion. 

"When you're reviewing records for Senior NCO applicants, 95 to 97 percent are stellar records and the individuals have accomplished their CCAF degree," Sergeant Porter said. "So, there has to be something that stands out in their records, like Air Force-level decorations and wing-level involvement. Outstanding records have to start at the staff and technical sergeant levels, she added. 

On the junior enlisted side, senior NCOs sat on a mock senior airman below-the-zone board to show Airmen competing for BTZ exactly what they're up against. 

Two Airmen in full service dress were called separately in front of a board comprised of fiveVandenberg senior NCOs to answer questions on Air Force history, dress and appearance, customs and courtesies, fit force and air & space expeditionary forces. 

"Both Airmen had good military bearing and were able to answer, or not answer, the questions asked with confidence," said Master Sgt. Joseph Stratil, an evaluator from the 614th Space Operations Group. 

"This is what you would expect from a normal BTZ board," added Master Sgt. Charles Ammons, Vandenberg Airman Leadership School flight chief. 

"The Airmen may have the same qualifications and answer the same amount of questions correctly; then it will all come down to their disposition," Sergeant Ammons said. 

Airmen of all ranks who attended the enlisted symposium were left with Chief Gordon's words ringing in their ears, "Don't forget this day," he said. "No matter what assignment you go to, keep giving back."