By Staff Sgt. Emily Kenney
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Airmen in the Language Enabled Airmen Program held their first club meeting April 11, at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.
LEAP is a career-spanning program that identifies, selects, educates and trains Airmen who can speak, read and understand foreign languages, to accomplish specific Air Force and Department of Defense missions.
“The intent is that the Air Force identifies Airmen who speak foreign languages so they can be utilized to do Air Force or Department of Defense missions with their language expertise, experience and knowledge,” said Capt. Sindler, 21st Medical Support Squadron. “There are also a lot of language-capable Airmen who are not considered language-enabled. This program helps those Airmen through online and in-person [Temporary Duty] training to increase their level of language proficiency to meet mission needs.”
Sindler and Master Sgt. Manuel Jimenez organized the LEAP club at Peterson AFB to get participants together to share stories and experiences. Club meetings are held the second Wednesday of the month at the base chapel.
“Capt. Sindler stopped by my office one day because he started researching people in LEAP,” said Jimenez, 21st Medical Group contracting officer representative. “We started sharing experiences and the importance of it and how there was no common club, so we decided to start the club here at Peterson.”
Sindler and Jimenez said they want to get the word out about LEAP and its global importance.
“The LEAP program opens the door to endless possibilities,” said Jimenez. “That’s one thing we want to highlight for the new LEAP applicants. This isn’t just about learning the language, this is about a real purpose: utilizing that language in the Department of Defense and its interactions with different country’s services.”
“It’s really crucial to building and strengthening our relationships and partnerships with countries worldwide,” said Sindler.
Each year, a board meets to review applicant’s packages. In 2017, more than 50 percent of applicants were accepted into LEAP.
There are currently more than 2,700 Airmen in LEAP, speaking 90 different strategic languages.
However, Sindler said, there are many Airmen who speak foreign languages but aren’t involved or don’t know about the program.
“There are about 29 people on base who are in LEAP,” said Sindler. “However, there’s probably five to 10 times this many people on base who speak a foreign language but don’t show up on our list because they’re not in LEAP. We’re trying to get the word out so those people can apply to LEAP.”
Jimenez said LEAP has been crucial to his career development.
“LEAP is not only about learning the language,” said Jimenez. “I believe it has helped me progress in my career. It makes you stand out in promotion boards. Everyone goes to school and volunteers, but this is unique and really helps broaden your career.”
During LEAP meetings, participants hone their language skills, share stories and talk about how LEAP has affected their careers and lives. Sindler and Jimenez encourage anyone to attend the meetings on the second Wednesday of the month at 11:30 a.m. at the base chapel.
“Anyone who is interested can come to our meetings,” said Jimenez. “Even if they don’t speak another language, but they’re interested in learning, that’s a great start. It’s open for everyone.”
For more information on LEAP and how to apply go to www.culture.af.mil/leap. The application window for Active Duty members is now until 16 June. For more information on the LEAP Club at Peterson, call 719-556-1357.