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First Six Council gives junior enlisted voice within Wing

SCOTIA, N.Y. -- Senior Airman James Comstock, 109th Maintenance Group, picks up donated coats from the Stratton All Ranks Club on Dec. 7, 2013. Comstock is an active member of the 109th First Six Council, which reaches out to the community in various ways. The council and the All Ranks Club worked together during December Unit Training Assembly to offer free pastries and coffee to anyone who donated new or used coats, which will be donated throughout the community. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt/Released)

SCOTIA, N.Y. -- Senior Airman James Comstock, 109th Maintenance Group, picks up donated coats from the Stratton All Ranks Club on Dec. 7, 2013. Comstock is an active member of the 109th First Six Council, which reaches out to the community in various ways. The council and the All Ranks Club worked together during December Unit Training Assembly to offer free pastries and coffee to anyone who donated new or used coats, which will be donated throughout the community. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt/Released)

SCOTIA, N.Y. -- Junior enlisted members with the 109th Airlift Wing may sometimes feel that they don't have a voice within the wing. The base's First Six Council has been ensuring that's not the case over the last few years as members get together monthly to bounce ideas off each other and then get those ideas to wing leaders.

Community involvement, mentorship, morale and career advice are just a few goals the council has for the wing's most junior enlisted up through technical sergeants.

"The goal of the First Six is to be the voice of (all the junior enlisted Airmen) on base," said Senior Airman Carl Williams, First Six Council president and also a member of the 109th Medical Group. "It's an avenue for Airmen to use to mainstream some ideas they may have for the base as a whole."

Williams said wing leaders are encouraging Airmen to get involved so they can get a better understanding of what others are doing throughout the wing. He said bringing Airmen together at these meetings from different sections allows them to see that others may be having similar issues. It's also a way for Airmen to get know people from different squadrons they may never have any interaction with when just doing their job.

Community service is another goal many members of the First Six Council have, including Senior Airman James Comstock, 109th Maintenance Group, who recently set up a coat drive basewide.

"One of my main goals with the First Six Council is to help build community relationships," Comstock said. "I've been working on the coat drive and have started work with Adopt-a-Highway for the spring. ... During last month's meeting, I suggested a coat drive. It's not hard to do. Other people are doing the leg work by bringing in the coats. All I have to do is pick them up and drop them off at the City Mission."

Boxes were set up throughout the base where anyone could drop off new or used coatsĀ to be donated to the community. The council also worked with the Stratton All Ranks Club during the December Unit Training Assembly in offering free coffee and pastries at the club in exchange for a donated coat.

"As more Airmen start to participate in (the First Six Council), they start to learn about other aspects of the base," Comstock said. "

"People who have ideas (can) use the First Six name so they can promote their projects," Williams said.

Since it's sometimes difficult to reach all the junior Airmen on the base, especially for those who are deployed, the First Six Council set up a Facebook Group open to all E-1s through E-6s assigned to the wing.

"We have about 120 members (on Facebook) so far," Williams said. "That's only about an eighth of the total population. But as you'll hear countless amounts of times from officers and members, we're not looking for numbers. It's more about finding those gems who do not know that we are out there and that we are a motivated group of people. The main reason why we try to push ideas, like Senior Airman Comstock had, is to show the members who are able to put aside time for these projects that we value their ideas. Just being a part of this organization and doing something already shows leadership that you're dedicated and that you're willing to do more and put that extra time out there."

"I think it almost takes the burden off of leadership," Comstock said. "We come up with ideas, present it to them, and then we do all of the leg work."

Another goal of the First Six Council is simply to offer assistance to other Airmen throughout the wing.

"Sometimes we're just providing an outlet to find information or for them to ask how to address their supervisor to get a problem fixed," Comstock said. "Sometimes people just need advice on how to address superior officers. We've had members involved in the mentoring program on base as well as unit career advisers. So it's always good to be able to pick their brain. When you put all these minds together, someone is going to have an answer to your question."

Williams said since taking over as president, the council has rewritten its charter. "We wanted to have the base look at us in a new, mature light. ... One of my main goals was to relight the kindle of the First Six Council so that when the next group steps in, it will be easy for them to get going. It's already showing promise.

"Everyone looks at the First Six differently, but it's supposed to be an area watched over by leadership where Airmen can get ideas and also learn (what it takes to step into a supervisory position)."

The First Six Council meets every UTA. If you are an airman basic through technical sergeant and are not getting e-mail updates, contact Williams to be put on the e-mail distribution list. You can also request membership to the "109th 1st 6 Council" group page on Facebook for updates.