CAA: Informing, developing the force

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JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — Life is full of decisions.

Whether making the Air Force a career or using experience drawn from service to springboard into a civilian profession, always looking one or two steps ahead can be a good way to keep options open and set oneself up for success.

In the journey through life in the Air Force, a Career Assistance Advisor acts as a compass to navigate successfully.

A common theme throughout the robust list of CAA responsibilities is development and information sharing. For the JBSA-Randolph CAA, Master Sgt. Sanelle Romero, assisting Airmen with life and career-impacting decisions is exactly what she loves to do.

“I aspire to be the wingman our junior enlisted can rely on to answer questions for all situations, for example retraining or reenlistment, or even the hard decision of whether or not to separate from this great institution,” Romero said. “I want to be the senior NCO that equips all Airmen with the proper tools to transition into the next phase in their career or in life.”

Romero said she enjoyed mentoring and guiding Airmen as a supervisor. Her most memorable assignment, prior to her duty now, was at the 319th Training Squadron at JBSA-Lackland, where she was able to mentor and council Basic Military Trainees from day one of training to the day they left for technical school. She knew that in a special duty as a CAA she could dedicate all of her time to developing Airmen.

“There is nothing better than waking up and walking into a job that you love doing,” she said. “The Airmen are so intelligent and full of so many great ideas. Being able to share in their experiences and see them blossom into outstanding military Airmen, NCOs and senior NCOs is the most rewarding aspect of what I do.”

Romero’s day-to-day job consists mainly of scheduling and facilitating professional development seminars for Airmen at all levels, focused on topics like professional enhancement, public speaking and Enlisted Performance Report writing, just to name a few. She averages six to eight seminars a month.

Romero also facilitates the First Term Airmen’s Course and acts as the base’s principle advisor on retention, pay and benefits programs. She also conducts one-on-one counseling sessions with Airmen from all career fields and at all stages in their Air Force career.

“Each Airman is going through a different phase of their career, whether they are separating, retraining or becoming a new supervisor. As CAAs, we ensure they have the correct guidance and resources they need to make an informed decision,” she said.

Career Assistance Advisors are one of 10 special duties identified as Developmental Special Duties. The 10 DSDs were highlighted and set apart in 2013 “due to the unique leadership roles and the Airman’s responsibility to mentor and mold future leaders,” according to memo from Air Force Personnel Center Headquarters. In order to ensure the highest quality Airmen are assigned to DSD positions, the Air Force implemented a nomination process.

Although Romero was not hired through the new Developmental Special Duty process, she still went through a competitive review process and had a panel interview before she was given her assignment as Randolph CAA. She was chosen for her ability to be an ambassador and role model for the Air Force core values and disciplines.

She says she has great respect for the responsibility of her position and is appreciative of the emphasis on professionalism for future CAAs to come.

“We need the right people mentoring and molding our future replacements … my replacement,” she said. “It is necessary with all of the changes the Air Force is going through that we ensure the most qualified Airmen take on this responsibility, which is not an easy task! The DSD process helps create and develop the world’s greatest Airmen.”

Airmen can visit their local Career Assistance Advisor for more information on the responsibilities of the position or they can visit the Air Force Portal and search for information about specific DSD positions.