WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Team Whiteman received a special visit from the highest enlisted leader for the National Guard Aug. 30, 2022.
U.S. Air Force Senior Enlisted Advisor Tony L. Whitehead, the senior enlisted advisor to the chief of the National Guard Bureau, met with Whiteman’s total force Airmen and Soldiers, and learned more about the wellness of Team Whiteman’s enlisted ranks.
“When I come out to an installation, I have an opportunity to find out exactly how the Airmen and Soldiers are thinking about the job that they’re doing, and how we’re taking care of them from a leadership perspective,” said Whitehead.
He met with total force Airmen who maintain the world’s stealthiest bomber, The B-2 Spirit. Whitehead was shown how active duty and Guard Airmen work side by side, demonstrating how Total Force Integration plays a role in the B-2 mission.
“We showed SEA Whitehead that the 509th and the 131st Total Force Integration relationship is the gold standard in the Air Force,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jason R. Henke, the 131st command chief master sergeant. “He saw that the members of the 131st provide a level of expertise to this unique mission set which would be lost without the Guard. Operations, maintenance, support, staff — we showed him that the 131st is at the tip of the spear.”
During Whitehead's visit, Whiteman welcomed leadership for a Women's Equality Day panel. He spoke upon some of the issues that female service members had in the past and addressed how to prevent those issues from reoccurring. While on the panel, he challenged leaders at all levels to be accountable for ensuring inclusivity is a regular part of doing business.
“I think it says a lot about where the wing commander and the leadership is when it comes to inclusion,” said Whitehead. “I think they've made a decision that they're going to make it a part of the everyday culture of Whiteman and not just an event within the year.”
Whitehead also received a front-seat view of the Army’s newest UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter at the Missouri National Guard’s 1-135th Assault Helicopter Battalion, who is in the midst of upgrading their fleet from the earlier UH-60L variant.
Whitehead asked enlisted members he met about their future goals, plans, and job satisfaction.
“The most important part is to get their opinions,” said Whitehead. “You are going to have a senior Airman who’s not going to talk to a four star general, but they may talk to an enlisted person… and those are things I have the opportunity to take back to the Pentagon.”