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UP CLOSE: Tech. Sgt. Heather Witherspoon

This week’s Up Close features Tech. Sgt. Heather Witherspoon, 94th Security Forces Squadron. Up Close is a series spotlighting individuals around Dobbins Air Reserve Base. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Tech. Sgt. Andrew Park; photo/Senior Airman Josh Kincaid)

This week’s Up Close features Tech. Sgt. Heather Witherspoon, 94th Security Forces Squadron. Up Close is a series spotlighting individuals around Dobbins Air Reserve Base. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Tech. Sgt. Andrew Park; photo/Senior Airman Josh Kincaid)

This week’s Up Close features Tech. Sgt. Heather Witherspoon, 94th Security Forces Squadron. Up Close is a series spotlighting individuals around Dobbins Air Reserve Base.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
Chicago, IL

WHY DID YOU JOIN?
When I graduated college, I wasn’t ready to just keep working. I really wanted to do more, so I joined. I knew I wanted to go back to school eventually and I didn’t want to go back into the workforce. I wanted to do more and experience more.

FAVORITE AIR FORCE EXPERIENCE?
My first really great experience in the Air Force was going to my training called ASIRF, Active Shooter Incident Response Force. I learned so much about my career field, as far as tactics and tools, and it instructed us on a lot of things we use in our use of force. It gave me a really good foundation and some really good hands-on training with a SWAT team down at Lackland AFB, Texas.
Deploying to Afghanistan was another great experience. It was also one of the scariest experiences as a young staff sergeant. The day I put on staff sergeant, I was relieved of duty so I could head over there. I was completely afraid as to what I was going to be doing. I had never deployed before and I was a staff sergeant so it was a huge weight to carry, but I had an amazing experience. I learned a lot about being a leader. I learned a lot about being there for your troops, and what it means to supervise. It has nothing to do with writing on a piece of paper saying “you did this or you didn’t do this.” It deals with communication and building relationships. In that environment, which wasn’t always the greatest, you have to depend on people. You have to be honest and transparent. You have to lead.

PERSONAL/PROFESSIONAL GOALS?
I just started my master’s degree, so my goal is to complete that. I’m studying industrial organizational psychology at Liberty University. I’m hoping to begin a second career with my degree after I retire from the military in about 12 years. I’ve found myself to be drawn to and to have a good understanding and desire to work with people. I like thinking about the way people learn and retain information as well as the way they do their job. Also, what keeps them at their job and what makes them want to leave. How do we change an organization from the inside out? How do we take care of our people first? Because they’re the reason why everything turns or everything goes and why missions get completed. I would love to ultimately own my own business and to help other organizations solve these problems.
My next one is to continue to critique who I am and what I do so I can be prepared for the next rank.

BEST ADVICE EVER RECEIVED?
Do what’s right, because it’s right. And do it well.

SOMETHING NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT YOU?
I’m addicted to lip gloss. I own a lot of lip glosses.