Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Face of Defense: Youth ChalleNGe Academy Leads to Airman’s Service

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Mercedee Schwartz, 124th Fighter Wing

BOISE, Idaho, Dec. 21, 2017 — The road that leads someone to serve in the Idaho Air National Guard isn’t always the most traditional route.

Airman 1st Class Cody Gilbert, an aircraft armament systems specialist with the 124th Maintenance Group at Gowen Field here, decided to join after attending the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy.

The academy is part of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, which helps at-risk youth earn their high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED). The program emphasizes self-discipline, personal responsibility and positive motivation to help Idaho teens with a tough, disciplined education, all within a caring and respectful environment.

The Idaho National Guard, along with the state of Idaho, funds the IDYCA, which is located in Pierce, Idaho.

“It’s a quasi-military school, so you have military trainers that do things to help you figure out what you’re doing with your life,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert described IDYCA as a place that helps kids to grow and become better people.

Turning Point

Attending and graduating from the academy, he said, was a turning point in his life.

“I just wanted to be able to move ahead in life,” Gilbert said.

The program is five-and-a-half months long and has eight core components: academic excellence, leadership and followership, life coping skills, job skills, service to the community, responsible citizenship, health and hygiene, and physical fitness.

Gilbert said he had always been interested in joining the military, but after attending the National Guard-funded IDYCA, and doing additional research he decided to stay close to home and joined the Idaho Air National Guard.

Although he said his experience was worth it, he admitted that IDYCA was tougher for him than going through basic military training for the Air Force, but it has benefitted him as an airman because it’s something that most people don’t have.

Changed Perspective

“It has changed my perspective on a lot of things,” Gilbert said. “I used to be way different, but after going through the academy, basic, and tech school it changes the way you see the world.”
Gilbert said the academy changes people and it’s not worth it to give up; a person just has to keep pushing. Gilbert didn’t give up and the challenges that he faced while attending IDYCA have led him to successfully serve in the IDANG.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Face of Defense: Embarkation Marine Lives in the Details

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jonah Baase 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

CAMP HANSEN, Japan, Dec. 13, 2017 — Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Vivianlee Aguero thrives in a high operational tempo. “I love putting all of my effort into my job, because I can see it in the product,” she said. “Staying motivated and pushing through the busiest work times is the most satisfying feeling once it’s done.”

Aguero is an embarkation specialist with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. She was born in Guam and lived there until her family moved to the United States when she was 2 years old. She completed high school at 17, moved back to Guam and enlisted in the Marine Corps.

“I joined because I wanted to see the world,” Aguero said. “Okinawa is my first duty station, and there are so many places you can travel to from here.”

Aguero’s first deployment was aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard with the 31st MEU during Fall Patrol 2017. During the deployment, the 31st MEU participated in Talisman Saber 17, a bilateral U.S.-Australian exercise held every two years.

“There was always something that needed to get done,” Aguero said. “You really get to understand how high the operational tempo is and gain a lot of experience on the job.”

Extra Shifts

During the deployment, she volunteered for extra duty shifts to fill free time, which she called ‘empty space,’ said Marine Corps Cpl. Edward Moskos, an embarkation specialist with VMM-265 and a coworker of Aguero’s.

“She always gets the job done and looks for more to do,” he said. “She’s always busy and hates having downtime.”

During her time here, Aguero consistently reviews her completed work and seeks guidance to improve. “She has a sharp mind,” Moskos said. “She can look at every fine detail in scheduling and ensure there are no complications during mission execution.”

Aguero said she hopes to travel back to Guam and visit the loved ones who cultivated her meticulous nature. In the meantime, she added, she plans on enjoying the island of Okinawa and influencing the Marines around her with a positive attitude.

“I put my heart into everything I do,” she said. “I love helping others. When I see their success, it motivates me.”