Mentoring – A Service to Our Country

  • Published
  • By Rachel Kibbe Williams
  • 16th Air Force
As the new year starts, many people make resolutions to improve their lives, whether it’s by going to the gym, stopping smoking, or just using the stairs instead of the elevator. This year, try getting involved with your community by mentoring.

Mentoring benefits both the giver and receiver with the exchange of knowledge, perspective and accomplishment.

U.S. President Joe Biden challenged Americans in his proclamation making January the National Mentoring Month. “As families and friends, teachers and counselors, coaches and co-workers, faith and community leaders, good citizens and neighbors, we can each play a role in helping the next generation of Americans achieve their dreams.”

Tech. Sgt. Jeremiah “Bulldog” Loop, 16 AF/A8C, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of Information Warfare Capabilities, has made mentoring others a priority. He started mentoring his Wingmen as an airman first class.

“16 years ago, I was an airman first class at the time and [my Wingmen] were brand new, I picked them up from the airport when they got to their first duty station," said Loop. "A lot of the work I have done and places I have been are primarily on-the-job training situations. So, even though I had coworkers, teammates, we all took the opportunity to share insight and teach each other at each new job or base.”

Frederick Hall, Network Engineer, with the 690th Intelligence Support Squadron, has mentored and coached in the CyberPatriot program for the past 12 years.

Hall explained that CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Education Program created by the Air and Space Forces Association for students in grades kindergarten to high school to become familiar with careers in cybersecurity or other STEM disciplines critical to our nation's future. said Hall. The program also has the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, the nation's largest cyber defense competition that puts high school and middle school students in charge of securing virtual networks. 

“Over the years, I have helped students to realize that it is possible to have a successful career in the Information Technology and Cybersecurity industry," said Hall. "I would like to think that I have made an impact with helping middle and high school students realize that they can become cybersecurity, IT or computer programmers. I have assisted many students by starting them on a pathway to enter the cybersecurity workforce by either joining the service or attending college to earn a degree and then, joining the workforce.”

Loop has expanded his mentorship to include mentoring children through the Starbase Kelly Leaders Influencing the Future through Teaching program, which Loop attributes to broadening his perspective on the impact of mentoring. The LIFT Program bridges military partners with San Antonio area students.

“When I see another person either a child or an adult approach or solve a situation in an unexpected way I get a chance to see a small window of how they see the world and think,” Loop said. “Please take the time to mentor, in whatever capacity you can, at home, work or neighborhood. Your experiences may be similar to others, but your view is unique and is key to helping others understand the world around them.”

Hall believes mentoring is an essential part of personal and professional growth.

“Mentorship is about developing the next generation of cyber professionals by providing guidance and resources that will enable them to build a solid foundation of knowledge to make decisions that will help them to overcome the cyber challenges of the future," said Hall. "Personally, I have a feeling of great pride and accomplishment when a team moves into a higher tier of competition or when a former team member contacts me to tell me that they have passed a certification exam, graduated from college, found a job as a cyber-professional and then, thank me for my mentorship which helped them to achieve their goal.”

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom we also honor this month said in his I’ve Been on the Mountaintop speech, “Let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.”

Think of the potential you have this year to serve those around you.

Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, 16th Air Force focuses on IW in the modern age. IW requires integrating: Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance; Cyber Warfare; Electromagnetic Warfare; Weather; Public Affairs; and Information Operations capabilities. 16th Air Force ensures that our Air Force and Nation are fast, resilient and fully integrated in competition, crisis and conflict by incorporating IW at operational and tactical levels, capitalizing on the value of information by leading the charge for uniquely-21st century challenges in the highly dynamic, seamless and global information domain.

Editor’s note: The mention of the nonprofit organization, Air and Space Force Association, does not constitute endorsement of affiliation by 16th Air Force or the U.S. Air Force.