Reserve Citizen Airman takes home First Sergeant Academy Commandant Award

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Marnee A.C. Losurdo
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

First sergeants play an important role in their units as they advise commanders on the health, morale, welfare, and quality of life of Airmen and families to ensure overall unit readiness.

One 403rd Wing Reserve Citizen Airman was ready for that challenge and was selected to serve as the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron first sergeant.

Master Sgt. Dishau JeanJacques not only attended the First Sergeant Academy at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., Feb. 25 to March 22, but excelled, earning the prestigious First Sergeant Commandant Award.

The Air Force First Sergeant Academy is a leadership development and technical training course designed to prepare senior noncommissioned officers to serve as first sergeants.

JeanJacques, one of six nominees for the Commandant Award in her 150-person class, was selected by her peers and instructors based on her level of leadership, academics, followership, teamwork, and commitment throughout the course designed to prepare senior noncommissioned officers for their role as a first sergeant. The four-week course curriculum included first sergeant responsibilities, maintenance and discipline, negotiation and dispute resolution, resiliency training, and a legal orientation.

JeanJacques said she was humbled and honored to receive the Commandant Award, but it wasn’t her goal.

“I wanted to learn as much as I could to put in my toolbelt so when I returned to my unit, I could be the best first sergeant I can be and the servant leader that you need to be in this role,” she said. “I want to apply everything I learned so I can be an advocate for the Airmen in my unit and an effective advisor to my commander. So, when I received the award, it was very humbling because the other nominees were just as sharp. I was proud to represent the Air Force Reserve and it was an honor to be able to bring this recognition home. It was significant to me.”

As the first sergeant for the only weather reconnaissance unit in the Department of Defense that flies into tropical and winter storms to gather data to improve forecasts, JeanJacques will advise her commander on various aspects that impact the readiness, health, morale, welfare, and quality of life of 53rd WRS Airmen and their families, to ensure a mission-ready force, according to Air Force Instruction 36-2113.

“I became a first sergeant so I could be the first sergeant I needed when I was an Airman,” said JeanJacques, who has served in the Air Force Reserve for 19 years in Health Service Management as an administrator. She also served as the 403rd Wing Yellow Ribbon Program Manager from 2018 to 2021 ensuring Airmen and their families were provided with essential resources prior to, during, and after deployment. In civilian life, she serves on the Boys and Girls Club Administrative team Biloxi, Mississippi. “This is a rewarding career field because you get to take care of people.”

This type of recognition isn’t a first for JeanJacques. Upon graduation from the NCO Academy, she earned the John Levitow Award, the highest honor presented to a graduate of Air Force enlisted Professional Military Education. 

A life-long learner, she said she embraces a philosophy where every opportunity is a learning experience, and those experiences can be passed on to others if one is willing to learn from the experience.

“My philosophy is not to try to just get through life or the day or the job but to get from it," she said. "Meaning take from it, learn from it, the good and the bad. It’s self-investment to learn from life and its experiences so you have tools to put in your toolset. So, enroll in development classes, get mentors who can guide you; life is one big classroom so constantly learn and embrace the challenging times with the good.” 

The wing is always looking for exceptional candidates such as Master Sgt. JeanJacques to fill the role of first sergeant, said Master Sgt. Jared Bryant, 403rd Wing first sergeant and resiliency integrator.

“We are very proud of her receiving the First Sergeant Commandant Award. It speaks volumes about her leadership and fellowship qualities, which will benefit our Airmen,” he said.

For any master sergeant or promotion eligible technical sergeants interested in becoming a first sergeant, opportunities await. The wing has five vacancies and members who are interested in applying, should contact their unit first sergeant, Chief Master Sgt. David Jackson, 403rd Wing command chief, or Bryant.