New satellite facilitators commit to EPME
By Master Sgt. Mavi Smith, The I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center
/ Published July 30, 2010
McGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. --
A group of 24 volunteer NCO's from 17 Air National Guard units proved their commitment to leadership training when they completed the Satellite Enlisted Professional Military Education (EPME) Program Facilitator course at The I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center here, July 30.
The Satellite EPME program is a distance learning version of the Airman Leadership School and NCO Academy that was designed for Air National Guard members who cannot attend the five and six-week programs but still want the education, experience and credit of attending the course in-residence.
During the program, Satellite EPME instructors at the Training and Education Center work with satellite facilitators at the unit level to provide a training experience that uses the Warrior Network to televise live, interactive training lessons.
For 12 weeks, students attend four-hour sessions, two nights a week at their home station and then travel to the Training and Education Center for a two-week capstone in-residence experience.
A typical Satellite EPME class consists of approximately 130 students from 15 Air National Guard units. Its success relies heavily on the satellite facilitators.
These volunteers are responsible for the overall management of the program at their units. They ensure all guidance and standards are maintained; technical equipment operates correctly; and students are present for duty and engaged in the learning process. They also facilitate exercises, counsel students, document problems, control and administer tests, and supply all student study materials.
"We couldn't do it without them," said Master Sgt. Eric Bollmann, the director of education for the Satellite EPME program. "We rely on them to be our eyes and ears in the classroom. We count on them to provide advice or guidance and to address any problems appropriately. They are absolutely vital to the program."
The four-day facilitator course provides these volunteers with the needed background and training on the roles, expectations, and responsibilities of the position.
Satellite facilitators generally represent a variety of military workcenters. This group included several first sergeants as well as aircraft maintenance, finance, intelligence, logistics, medical, recruiting and security forces personnel.
Many are graduates of the Satellite EPME program. All said they thought the program was a better option than the available correspondence courses for building the leadership and communication skills NCOs need for future responsibilities.
Their reasons for volunteering to be satellite facilitators were varied but contained a common theme.
"Most of them tell you they want to do this to make a difference in the lives of those NCOs that we are developing," said Bollmann. "They see it's a great program. They want to be a part of it and make a difference in the Air Force."
Tech. Sgt. Guy L. Hood, a traditional guard student flight coordinator at the Joint Force Headquarters, Utah Air National Guard, graduated from the Satellite NCO Academy on June 29, and immediately raised his hand to become a satellite facilitator.
"I think the Air Force is right on target," said Hood, who is also a state trooper with the Utah Highway Patrol. "To invest this much time and money and effort and training on a traditional guardsman is awesome. These skills can be applied to any job, any position, any corporation. "
Senior Master Sgt. Aaron G. Washington, the fabrication section supervisor for the 113th Wing, District of Columbia Air National Guard, said he agrees.
"The satellite program is a fantastic way to give individuals what they need to perform their jobs," said Washington. "This is something that works for them. It's good for the Air Force, it's good for the guard, it's good for their unit."
"It's a big commitment," said Hood of his new responsibilities. "But on the other side of it you also get something back. You gain just as much as you give by teaching and helping others...and that's very rewarding."
The next Satellite NCO Academy program is scheduled to begin on August 9, when 148 Airmen from 15 Air National Guard units will begin the course with the help of these new satellite facilitators.