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Air Force Materiel Command (June 15, 2007): AFMC seeks to expand mentoring program for Air Force Cadets.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The Air Force Cadet Officer Mentor Action Program has been hard at work mentoring young Air Force officers and cadets for nearly two decades.

The program, also known as AFCOMAP, is a non-profit, nationally chartered, Air Force-sponsored organization. Its purpose can be summed up by the motto, "Strengthening Future Air Force Leaders through Mentorship."

Currently, there are 12 active chapters. Two are located at Air Force Materiel Command bases: Hanscom AFB, Mass., and Robins AFB, Ga. Officials at Headquarters AFMC here say they would like to see more AFMC bases initiate chapters.

"AFCOMAP can be another important tool that can shape current cadets into future Air Force leaders," said Col. James Playford, AFMC deputy director of manpower and personnel.

"Developing, mentoring and instructing our future leaders are everyone's responsibility. AFCOMAP offers one avenue to fulfill that responsibility. It's a win-win situation for cadets and the mentors," said Playford.

AFCOMAP currently has three main goals: to help all Air Force officers and cadets develop professionally; to support the professionalism and retention issue of minority officers; and to assist newly commissioned officers with the transition from cadet life to the life of an active-duty Air Force officer.

"We mentor cadets about what it's going to take not only to become successful officers, but also successful professionals," said AFCOMAP National President Brig. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins. "Once they go on active duty, the focus shifts to the company-grade officers and what it's going to take for them to become field-grade officers or career airmen officers."

Each chapter works to promote the image of the Air Force in their local communities and try to gain the interest of young people in their work. They also reach out specifically to the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps programs close to their base.

The Robins AFB chapter reaches out to ROTC detachments at local universities. They've held career days for the cadets to ask questions and have invited them to tour the base.

"We even took them through what in processing would be like," said 1 st Lt. Roniece Vandyke, vice president of operations for the Robins chapter.

Vandyke has been involved in AFCOMAP for three years and was introduced to the program through a friend.

"Mentoring is the main focus," she said, "We try to mentor the cadets so they'll be prepared and know what to look for."

Cadets receive one-on-one attention. Each protege is specifically paired with a mentor in their related career field. This allows them the opportunity to learn about the military and their field of study. Chapters also sponsor professional speakers and hold fellowship luncheons.

AFCOMAP was born from an Army program entitled ROCKS, which was an organization formed for current officers to visit Army ROTC detachments at historically black colleges. Col. Paul Patton saw a similar need for it in the Air Force, joined the group, and began to tailor it for use in the Air Force.

The Air Force officially recognized AFCOMAP in June 1989. It originally focused on minority officers and cadets only and did not become officially chartered as a separate program for use in the Air Force until 1994. In doing so, its mission was expanded to include recruitment and retention of all cadets and junior officers.

Membership consists mainly of Air Force active duty and retired officers and officer candidates. However, civilians, enlisted personnel, and officers from other Services are all welcome.

AFCOMAP's operations manual and complete instructions on how to establish a new chapter can be found online at: <www.afcomapnational.org>.

Singer writes for Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs.
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Title Annotation:Career Development
Author:Singer, Nicole
Publication:Defense AT & L
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2007
Words:601
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