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Taking a step outside of their AFSC: Airman Dorm Leader

For the 428 Airmen living in the Fairchild dormitories, the four-man Unaccompanied Housing Management team is working diligently to provide them with the best possible home away from home. In addition to maintaining and increasing the overall quality of life for Airmen, ADLs help in-process new Airmen two times a week and out-process Airmen as they transition to different bases around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Mackenzie Richardson)

For the 428 Airmen living in the Fairchild dormitories, the four-man Unaccompanied Housing Management team is working diligently to provide them with the best possible home away from home. In addition to maintaining and increasing the overall quality of life for Airmen, ADLs help in-process new Airmen two times a week and out-process Airmen as they transition to different bases around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Mackenzie Richardson)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Editor's Note: This feature is part one of a five-part series on Special Duties and the Developmental Special Duty program.

Arriving at their first duty station can be nerve racking, stressful and hectic for many first-term Airmen. As checklists to in-process pile up, acronyms start to fly and reality sets in, new Airmen can feel lost and overwhelmed.

For the 428 Airmen living in the Fairchild dormitories, the four-man Unaccompanied Housing Management team is working diligently to provide them with the best possible home away from home.

“Our number one job is to maintain and manage the wing’s 25-acre campus with over 54,000 square footage of 10 dormitory buildings, and ensuring our number one goal of safety and quality of life is the best it can be,” said Tech. Sgt. Timothy Jennings, 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron Airman Dorm Leader.

In addition to maintaining and increasing the overall quality of life for Airmen, ADLs help in-process new Airmen two times a week and out-process Airmen as they transition to different bases around the world.

The UH team works closely with commanders, chiefs, first sergeants and supervisors to create a safe, healthy and welcoming environment for all Airmen. Through deliberate development of professional Airmen comes a culture of trust, commitment and respect.

This deliberate development includes the Bay Orderly program, a vital program that temporarily places Airmen with the UH team to maintain grounds, facilities and conduct small maintenance and cleaning tasks, said Tech. Sgt. Jacob Deberry, 92nd CES ADL.

“The Bay Orderly program utilizes Airmen who live on campus,” said Master Sgt. Rommel Rosales, 92nd CES Unaccompanied Housing superintendent. “It teaches Airmen the responsibility of caring for and maintaining their home. It is for the Airmen, by the Airmen.”

“For the Airmen” is why these ADLs volunteered to become involved with unaccompanied housing.

“When I became an NCO, I made it a point to be able to have real conversations with new Airmen,” Jennings said. “When I saw this job open up, I knew this was the best place to make an impact on their careers. I wanted to be an NCO who these new Airmen could look up to and talk freely with, an NCO that I never had as a young Airman.”

Like Jennings, Deberry wanted to get involved with unaccompanied housing because of the experiences he had as a young Airman.

“I remember getting orders to my first base toward the end of technical school. I tried calling and reaching out with no success. When I arrived at my first base, I had no information and no sponsor,” said Deberry. “The first active duty member I met was the dorm manager, an outgoing master sergeant who took time to show me the ins and outs of everything I needed to know.”

Today, these ADLs serve in their special duty positions for two years. They don’t describe their job and responsibilities as flashy; instead the UH team remains humble and passionate when talking about the work they complete on a day-to-day basis.

Although becoming an Airman Dorm Leader or Unaccompanied Housing superintendent isn’t a job many think about, it is a Special Duty Position that many Airmen may be vectored for through the Developmental Special Duty program beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

Currently, the DSD program has 1,175 positions available in specialties such as an Airmen Dorm Leader or UH Superintendent.

“Special duties give you the opportunity to tackle different challenges. It keeps your mind fresh and stimulated as it forces you to use critical thinking,” said Rosales. “Everyone should try to step out of their primary Air Force Specialty Codes, do a special duty and get out of their comfort zones. They’ll learn new problem-solving methods, attain new leadership skills and gain a new perspective on how different Air Force career fields come together to accomplish one mission.”

When their time comes to an end to leave the Unaccompanied Housing Management team special duty and return to their primary AFSCs, the UH team is confident their newly acquired skills and experiences will help them be a better Airmen, NCOs and leaders.