517th TRG Airman selected for Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program
By Tech. Sgt. Staci Kasischke, 17th Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 30, 2019
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. --
Tech. Sgt. David Lavallee’s primary job as an enlisted group-level commander’s executive is to work directly for and with commissioned officers day-in and day-out. Thanks to those same leaders, he’ll soon get to see what it’s like on the other side.
Lavallee is currently assigned to the 517th Training Group, which is a Goodfellow Air Force Base tenant unit integrated within the Department Language Institute Foreign Language Center and located at the Presidio of Monterey, California. With recommendation from Lavallee’s direct leadership team, Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, 2nd Air Force commander, along with Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, Air Education and Training Command commander, recently selected him to commission through the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program.
“I was notified via a surprise teleconference with the AETC commander, the 2nd Air Force commander, and my leadership team,” Lavallee said. “I felt shocked, primarily because there had been no news about the release and I had given up hope of being selected.”
SLECP is a commissioning program which enables senior leaders to directly select enlisted members to commission through Officer Training School who are highly talented and exhibit exceptional performance.
The program provides a two-track opportunity; SLECP-A , for enlisted members to pursue their degree while on active duty status, and SLECP-O, for Airmen who have already acquired their degree to directly commission through OTS. Lavallee fell into the SLECP-O category as a result of him earning his bachelor’s degree during his time on active duty.
“It took me nine years to complete my bachelors,” Lavallee said. “During that time, I had the challenges of moving assignments, professional military development, deployments, medical issues and then the daily work and family high-wire act. Not giving up and pressing through the drudgery of classes, while keeping the end goal of holding that piece of paper in your hands is the hardest part of it all. Being sidetracked with life’s circumstance forces you to choose between pressing on or putting it off, which can lead to giving up altogether.”
After earning his degree, Lavallee applied for OTS via the traditional yearly boards three times without success. He was starting to give up hope, but his leadership was determined to make sure the Air Force didn’t miss out on a great officer candidate.
“SLECP allows us to effectively recognize individuals with that rare mix of experience, character and dedication and move them to where they can be of most value and have the most impact on the Air Force,” said Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Robinson, 517th TRG superintendent. “Lavallee is the epitome of what every Airman strives to be. He’s hard working, honorable and a true professional.”
Although there is no board or application needed for SLECP, the selection is still extremely competitive. Each major command is allowed to select one candidate for a direct slot into SLECP, Lavallee is the sole AETC SLECP-O selection.
“The realization that I was chosen by Lt. Gen. Kwast left me in a state of deep humbleness, honor, and appreciation,” said Lavallee. “I was honored and humbled that he saw the potential and put his confidence in me to be selected for commission. I appreciate my entire support network, family, friends, coworkers and leadership. To be honest, I still feel like it is still a dream at times.”
Lavallee is scheduled for OTS in early Spring. After graduation and earning his gold bars, he will head back to school to become a cyberspace operations officer.
“In all honesty, it didn’t matter to me what job I received,” Lavallee said. “It’s about being an officer and having the honor of leading our Airmen. To be given this career field is merely icing on the cake.”
While his current leadership is going to miss having Lavallee around, they know he’s off to make a larger impact on the Air Force.
“I am excited for the enlisted Airmen who will one day work for lieutenant, captain, major, lt. colonel, and colonel Lavallee,” Robinson said. “His selection was as much about those enlisted Airmen he will one day lead, as it was about him… probably more so.”
For more information on commissioning in the Air Force contact your base education office or visit https://www.airforce.com/how-to-join/process/enlisted-to-officer