By Staff Sgt. Tiffany DeNault
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — As the years go on, the Air Force continues to grow. Letters to email. Physical paperwork to electronic documents. Processes, regulations, and how people interact with each other continue to change and become more efficient. However with changing times, conversations are sometimes needed to bridge the gap from how the Air Force was then to now to what is to come.
The 5/6 Club at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, developed a class to do just that and started the conversation between Generation X Airmen and millennial, or Generation Y, Airmen.
The class, called the Millennial Leadership Course, was held Dec. 9 at the Professional Development Center on Peterson AFB. There were approximately 28 attendees to the course: 25 enlisted Airmen, two Air Force officers, and one Army enlisted Soldier.
“It provides guidance on how to lead the millennials and shift our way of thinking,” said Tech. Sgt. Thomas Echelmeyer, 21st Aerospace Medicine Squadron Bioenvironmental Engineering NCO in charge and 5/6 Club president. “Being a Gen Xer, I need to understand how to reach to millennials and understand their way of learning is different from mine, because eventually they are going to be the ones leading the Air Force once I am long gone.”
During the course, Echelmeyer briefed the class that approximately 51 percent of uniformed members on Team Pete are millennials and 48 percent are Gen X. In the Air Force numbers were more dramatic with 73 percent millennial Airmen and 26 percent Gen X.
The three-hour course provided a facilitated discussion with some slides and a panel of three millennials. The class discussed everything from workforce to motivations, to relationships to electronics.
“It helps to identify what motivates individuals,” said Echelmeyer. “We know that millennials for instance are very education driven and what we can do is assist that individual to not only be more productive, but also more successful in their career within the Air Force and 21st Space Wing.”
The conversation was more than just a comparison with how the Air Force was a decade or so ago versus today’s force; the members also discussed the future.
“I like to think it is not just for the millennials. It’s thinking about how you impact the next generation and how you have to adapt for the next generations to come,” said Tech. Sgt. Kira Waller, 21st Contracting Squadron NCO in charge of the medical section and Millennial Leadership Course panel member. “It’s trying to shift how we lead for the future.”
The course is not only offered at Peterson AFB, but has also been held at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The course’s availability depends on when instructors and classroom space are available, resulting in no set time each month. Since the start of the course over one year ago, the group has held 11 classes with a total of about 500 attendees.
There are three times the course is scheduled to be held in January 2017: Jan. 6, Jan. 18, and Jan. 24 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Professional Development Center, building 1171, at Peterson AFB.