U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Chelsea Steel, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron Airman dorm leader, places a stocking full of candy and gifts on a dorm resident’s door handle at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 11, 2019. The ADL’s placed stockings on over 500 doors in the building while many residents were at work.
U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Chelsea Steel, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron Airman dorm leader, places a stocking full of candy and gifts on a dorm resident’s door handle at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 11, 2019. The ADL’s placed stockings on over 500 doors in the building while many residents were at work.

Airman Dorm Leaders: Maintaining Morale

by Tech. Sgt. Joshua Arends
Kunsan Air Base

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- When it comes to maintaining infrastructure built between the 1950’s to 2011, the Airman Dorm Leaders at Kunsan Air Base are ensuring dorms are safe, secure and up to Air Force standards while also raising the morale of their residents.

Kunsan currently has 17 ADL’s to manage 38 dorms, housing 2,500 enlisted and officer residents on yearlong unaccompanied assignments. Besides tracking and providing room inspections for the constant flow of incoming and outgoing military residents, the ADL’s also collaborate with squadron first sergeants on quality of life issues in the dorms and how to raise morale. Recently, they worked together to sort holiday stockings filled with candy and gifts from donors in Lubbock, Texas, and then left one on the doors of each occupied dorm room.

The ADL’s are the first stop for residents to address quality of life issues that include broken elevators, jammed doors, room temperature control issues and general upkeep concerns. If an issue cannot be fixed on the spot, an ADL assists with reporting the issue to the Unaccompanied Housing Office for repairs. On average, the housing office receives at least 200 work orders per month. 
“The most challenging part is getting everyone what they need.” says Technical Sgt. Chelsea Steel, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron ADL. “No one’s getting overlooked and I'm taking good notes. There is a lot of juggling involved and it’s easy to get distracted when taking care of a dorm housing 520 people.”

Ideally, an ADL has no more than 148 residents to take care of, but with the challenge that comes with manning fluctuation in vetted special duty assignments, some ADL’s at Kunsan are managing over 200 residents per position. Responding to issues requires constant communication between ADL’s and dorm residents.

“They’re good about letting you know about what’s going on,” says Senior Airman Jacinta Krietzer , 8th Comptroller Squadron command support staff, who has been living in her dorm for seven months. “If they can’t get to you in an email, they will post flyers everywhere. I feel like they’re doing a good job. There’s always a quick turnaround if you need something from them.”

To streamline communication, each dorm at Kunsan now has its own internal Facebook group page where residents can ask maintenance questions and ADL’s can keep everyone informed about upcoming events like floor inspections.

“100 percent inspections of the dorms… although it may have been uncomfortable to some, was great to give leaders a perspective as to what the conditions are on the installation,” says Master Sgt. Kahlila Mutidi, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron installation flight superintendent who works directly with the ADLs. “Some of those issues people are facing can be elevated to the right level where we can make changes and get funding that makes a difference.”

Those differences can result in every dorm elevator getting fixed, and parts ordered to fix plumbing issues. The inspections also make it possible for ADL’s and their residents to work together to keep their areas clean and compete for Dorm of the Quarter award. The winning dorm receives funding to spend on items for raising morale, such as dorm barbecues or a new television and game system for the day rooms. How the money is spent is decided after discussion between ADL’s and residents.

For Steel, doing what she can to raise morale in her dorm is something she enjoys most about being an ADL.

“I like helping people,” said Steel. “I want them to feel like they can always come to me. I really enjoy the customer service portion of it. They'll come in with an issue, and I'll be able to resolve it and make their quality of life better.”

In order to keep the quality of life improving, dorm residents should address any housing problems directly with their ADL.

“Don’t assume your ADL knows what your problem is,” says Mutidi. “Make it known. If you have reported a problem, follow up with them. Remember each of them is taking care of over 200 residents. We will get back to you. Between the ADL’s and the housing office, we are getting things done.”

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