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Lt. Col. Lehigh selected as mentor of the year

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Oklahoma -- Lieutenant Colonel S. DeAnn Lehigh has been selected as the Junior Officer Mentor of the Year by The Judge Advocate General Corps Reserves' Junior Officer Council (JOC). 

Lehigh, formerly the 507th Air Refueling Wing Staff Judge Advocate, transferred to the 452nd Air Mobility Wing. March Air Reserve Base, Calif., as their new SJA last month.

The Mentor of the Year Award was formed by The Judge Advocate General Corps Reserves' JOC to annually honor an individual for their efforts in mentoring junior officers in the JAG Corps. The JOC is comprised of 0-4 and O-3s within the Reserve ranks of the Judge Advocate General's Corp. The JOC is made up of representatives from each MAJCOM, each Reserve NAF, and several "at-large" members. The Junior Officer Council is tasked with being the voice of the junior JAGs to the Judge Advocate General Corps Reserves' Executive Council.

The nominees can be officers, enlisted or civilian from Cat A, Cat B or Air National Guard. The final selection is made by the members of the JOC based on the nomination write-up. According to Major Patrick D. Dyson, JOC Chairman, the competition judging was particularly tough this year because there were a number of well deserving nominees who have mentored TJAGCR junior officers in a variety of ways for a number of years.

"Lt. Col. Lehigh's nomination stood out for a number of reasons," Major Dyson said. "Those reasons included her initial focus on assisting enlisted members become officers, her mentoring of junior officers outside of the JAG corps and while deployed, even outside of the Air Force. Her contributions and support of TJAGCR junior officers as well of our sister service JAGs made her well deserving of the honor." The major added that Lt. Col. Lehigh was also the first selectee from the Cat A reserve.

According to Col. Jeffery R. Glass, 507th Air Refueling Wing commander, "Colonel Lehigh has a long and distinguished history of leadership and mentorship within the Air Force Reserve Command."

A prior enlisted Airman, Colonel Lehigh was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, in April 1989, as the first female weapons safety officer in Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC). Beginning shortly after her commissioning, she began to mentor enlisted members desiring to become officers, resulting in the commissioning of her replacements.

Upon becoming the Executive Officer of the 445th Airlift Wing, she instituted a first of-its-kind commissioning panel in order to ensure proper and fair screening of officer candidates. Through this panel process, she directly assisted in the development of enlisted members as officer candidates, by providing feedback and counseling. Many outstanding enlisted members ascended to the officer corps due to her direct advice and counsel.

During this time she became one of the first officers who developed the Junior Officer Leadership Development Seminar (JOLDS) Program. For many years, she was one of a very select few who taught numerous leadership classes across the command, mentoring hundreds of reserve officers. She was called upon to brief the vision of JOLDS at the Senior Leaders Conference, and advocated for continued senior leadership support of the program. Then, as an AFRC Confronting Difficult Issues instructor, she provided junior officers, as well as other reservists, important communication tools.
Through her involvement in the Reserve Officers Association (ROA), she served as the National Junior Officer Committee Chair, bringing issues of officer development, especially junior officer development, to the attention of ROA. Her interface with senior officers, throughout the command, provided them with tools to assist them in mentoring their officers.

Upon becoming a Judge Advocate (JAG), she began mentoring the Air Force's newest JAG officers- her peers in Judge Advocate Staff Officer Course. Often she would assist new JAGs with understanding the Air Force and their role within it.  Then, while assigned to Travis AFB, backfilling for the DSJA and serving as a civilian attorney, she mentored junior officers within the office. She helped them transition as Air Force officers by educating them on larger Air Force issues outside of the legal community. Through her tutelage, she prepared young attorneys in officer ship and to better serve their clients.

During her Global War on Terrorism tour in Iraq, she continued to mentor and lead over a dozen junior officers from all services and all components, active duty, reserve and guard. She was highly regarded by these young officers for her leadership. Even in a highly stressful combat area, she took time to assist young officer of all services develop and grow as leaders. She has kept in touch with many of these officers, continuing to provide advice and counsel to them.

"While assigned to the 507th Air Refueling Wing, Colonel LeHigh mentored her staff by providing them with an outstanding leadership example, understanding their goals and desires for the future and putting in place numerous opportunities for them to succeed. She ensures they are recognized for their accomplishments and provides them with insights into future responsibilities and opportunities," Colonel Glass said.

"She astutely takes every occasion available to provide teaching moments not just for her staff but others. She has personally mentored at least six junior officers within the wing and subordinate units. During the very busy UTA schedule she takes time to ensure these officers are ready. She fosters an atmosphere that allows young officers to share concerns in an environment that is conducive to learning and growth. It was a great pleasure to nominate her for this award," Colonel Glass said.