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First Sergeant first Air Guardsman to attend U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy nonresident course

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Senior Master Sgt. Lorene Kitzmiller is no stranger to accomplishing great things in the military. She has served in the U.S. Navy, Army, and the Air National Guard and recently added to her long list of accomplishments by becoming the first Air Guardsman to attend the U.S. Army Sergeant Major Nonresident Course in Ft. Bliss, Tex.

At first, getting into the course wasn't easy. Sergeant Kitzmiller, First Sergeant for the 113th Wing, D.C. Air National Guard, initially learned of the opportunity while attending a senior enlisted conference and knew she couldn't let the opportunity pass.

"I volunteered a few years ago and after nearly two years of pushing to get in, I was awarded the chance to attend," said Sergeant Kitzmiller.

The nonresident course traditionally consists of 22 months of distance learning, followed by a two-week resident phase and is designed broaden training availability for individuals who cannot attend the nine-month long resident course. Attendees are in the enlisted ranks from E-8 and E-9, learning a broad spectrum of senior non-commissioned officer tools with emphasis on improving communication skills and group study problems. Of course, being the go-getter that she is, Sergeant Kitzmiller completed the course well before the completion date.

"In the case of Sergeant Kitzmiller, a member of class 38 which began August, 2011 and ends June, 2013, she completed her distance learning five months ahead of schedule," said Sergeant Major Robert Sanchez, U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy department of distance education deputy director.

The nonresident course, which held its first class in August, 1974, can be very grueling as well, as most attendees of the distant learning portion have full-time jobs and other commitments to attend to while completing the nightly homework assignments. Sergeant Kitzmiller is not only a traditional Guardsman, she is also the First Sergeant of all four U.S. military components, including the Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Her experience working in a joint environment gives her insight to how the different components can work together.

"I was able to bring my experiences from the Air Guard and joint world to the course and it was a cooperative learning experience," said Sergeant Kitzmiller, "they [nonresident course classmates] learned from me and I learned from."

Although Sergeant Kitzmiller is the first ANG personnel to attend the nonresident course, it is the hope of Sergeant Major Sanchez that she is not the last of sister service members desiring to attend the course in the future.

"Other services members are encouraged to attend and coordinate through their human resources command to secure a reservation for the course," said Sergeant Major Sanchez.