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Intel Airman trades stripes for bars

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Alexx Pons)

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Alexx Pons)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- “I got something for our daughter to wear.”

Staff Sgt. Josiah knew his wife hated when he picked out clothes for their daughter, but this time there was an unseen benefit.  

At home for his wife to see, he laid out a plain white onesie, and next to it, two gold bars, representative of an almost seven-year journey and a goal that had finally come to fruition. 

A family affair 
Earlier that day, Josiah, the 450th Intelligence Squadron Distributed Ground System Analysis and Reporting Team NCO in charge of North Africa, received notification in a monthly commander’s call that he earned commission to become an intelligence officer through the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program. SLECP is a commissioning program that enables designated Air Force senior leaders to select enlisted members who are highly talented and exhibit exceptional performance to commission through officer training school.

After two attempts of applying for a commission through the board process, and two nominations for the SLECP program, he was finally on his way to become an officer. 

Josiah said the rest of the commander’s call was a blur, and all he could think of was coming up with a creative way to let his wife know the good news. 

“It was less about my validation and more about that my amazing wife at home was going to be so thrilled,” said Josiah. “She picked up a lot of where I needed support at home so I could fulfill my goals.” 

Never give up
Josiah said he never intended to make the Air Force a career. He just wanted to get his degree and get out, but shortly after enlisting, that changed. 

“I fell in love with the culture, the people, the structure… and I quickly decided to make it a full-time career,” he said. 

After finishing his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2015, Josiah applied for OTS for the first time. He ended up applying three more times and getting turned down each time. 

“It is a gut punch because then you really question if you did something wrong,” he said. “You wonder if your application was just not strong enough. Each time my leadership was there to pick me up to keep going.”

Lead as you have been led
The future second lieutenant said he could not quantify the support his leadership gave him as he worked toward his career goals.

“They always looked at what I was capable of first and then let me prove myself in that position,” said Josiah. “As many risks as they took, I tried to make sure they were rewarded for that, too.”
He added that he never felt like rank defined what his capabilities were. 

“It just reinforces that leaders at all levels will invest in you, and it makes you want to be the leader that they were to you,” he said.