Airmen dormitory leadership: your ADLs in action

by Staff Sgt. Robert Niter
86th Civil Engineer Squadron

The dormitories play a vital role in daily successes on the job and in our missions. The dormitories are both a place Airmen can call home and an establishment where they can relax. The dormitories are kept safe, secure and up to Air Force standards by noncommissioned officers assigned as airmen dorm leaders, or ADLs. A major part of the ADL’s role is to guide, mentor and lead our Air Force’s most junior Airmen.

Leadership has realized the importance of off-duty conditions and recently implemented a change in the duty title of those in charge of the dorms from dormitory management to airmen dormitory leaders. As part of the switch, dormitory leaders have become an Airman’s outside source to go to in addition to their direct supervisors. Though the ADLs do not replace shop supervisors in the chain of command, they do extend an Airman’s options to seek guidance about quality of life issues.

The ADL program aims to address problems left from the old dorm manager program by improving accessibility to dorm managers during duty hours and emphasizing ADLs as mentors. Airmen dorm leader is a special-duty position and only NCOs with above-average enlisted performance reports and recommendations from their commanders are accepted into the program. The days of the dorm manager being just a glorified facility manager are long gone. Dormitory leaders are still in charge of performing dormitory inspections, in- and out-processing, and ensuring the dormitories are maintained in working order. The standards have always been in place to maintain a level of discipline that is beneficial to preserving the cleanliness and functionality of the dormitories.

ADLs are here to help the Airmen. Most of the time, this is their first duty station and their first time away from home. ADLs are here to mentor them and help nourish a successful career. The ADL program provides an open-door policy where dormitory residents can walk into an ADL’s office and discuss their problems and issues. This helps ensure dorm residents feel as comfortable as possible talking about their needs and concerns.

ADLs also provide mentorship classes, brief new Airmen about the dorms at the First-Term Airman Center, and inform residents who are moving out of the dorms of their entitlements. Residents who are separating from the dorms are helped by the ADLs in preparing their overseas housing allowance, basic allowance for subsistence and occasionally dislocation allowance.

The ADLs motivate Airmen to take care of their dorms and get Airmen involved by hosting functions such as dormitory councils. Dorm councils are led by the dorm president and represent the voice of the residents. The council brings both problems and solutions to the ADL’s attention. The dormitory council discusses with the ADLs suggested changes, what can be done better and how the ADLs can better help the dorm residents. The ADLs translate these ideas into action by developing new programs and advocating with wing leadership for resources as needed.

The ADLs are in frequent communication with first sergeants, superintendents and the command chiefs about issues in the dorms and are in a unique position to find and fix issues, solve problems, and help our Airmen by working directly with leaders across multiple wings in the KMC.

As an ADL, I personally enjoyed every aspect of this job and its challenges. Not only is it important for noncommissioned officers to seek out special duties, but it’s good to show that you can succeed outside of your normal element. Being an ADL has given me a better insight to our younger Airmen’s needs and issues, and into how they act and live outside of their workplace. Understanding those who you supervise is very important, and this position can assist in just that.

If you are a staff sergeant and are interested in becoming an ADL, contact Master Sgt. Misty Rodriguez at 480-DORM or visit the Dorm Reception Center in Dorm 2413 on Ramstein.