State command chief:
Airmen care, development top priorities
Story by Stephanie Beougher, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs
In her relatively new role as the highest-ranking enlisted member of the Ohio Air National Guard, Chief Master Sgt. Heidi Bunker is most excited for the opportunity to "serve the amazing Airmen of Ohio."
Bunker, who took over responsibilities as Ohio Air National Guard state command chief from Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Jones in January, is the principal enlisted adviser to senior Ohio Air National Guard leadership and is responsible for influencing the health, morale and welfare of the organization's more than 4,000 enlisted personnel and their families. She is Ohio's 11th state command chief master sergeant and only the second woman to hold the position.
Bunker began her military career in October 1991 as an air transportation specialist in the 179th Aerial Port Squadron in Mansfield, Ohio. She has held several positions within the Ohio Air National Guard over the past 28 years, with her most recent being command chief master sergeant at the 178th Wing in Springfield, Ohio.
“I wanted to serve the country. It was a long-standing curiosity of mine. I also wanted to travel and go to college, and I thought the military could give me those things that my parents and community were unable to give at the time,” Bunker said.
She said the most rewarding experience for her as a Guard member came in 2005 when she deployed for 30 days to Louisiana on a humanitarian mission to support recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina. Bunker has also deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
“Chief Bunker brings a tremendous energy and focus to her new role as the state command chief,” said Brig. Gen. James Camp, assistant adjutant general for Air. “I know I speak for the entire Air staff at the Joint Force Headquarters, we’re lucky to have her leadership and experience. I would not be surprised to see Chief Bunker serve at the national level in the future.”
As the state command chief master sergeant, Bunker sees her top priority as caring for and developing Airmen to succeed when faced with challenges.
“We are going to have a lot of challenges ahead. We are going to need Airmen who are ready, flexible and growth focused. In order for this to happen, they will need cultures and environments that encourage this,” Bunker said. “We need Airmen who see challenges as opportunities. Increasing the emotional intelligence, resilience and cognitive flexibility of our Airmen will play key roles in our success.”
Bunker compares the state command chief role to that of a coach, helping Airmen “see their own potential and individual power.” Her standing advice for Airmen is to take care of themselves — physically, mentally, socially and spiritually — in order to be at their best and strong enough to help others.