News>Wellman does well for women: Grand Forks officer named first AMC nominee for new AF award
Capt. Taren Wellman, chief of adverse actions at the 319th Air Base Wing legal office, reviews notes from a staff meeting at her office Mar. 2, 2012, on Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. Wellman became the Air Mobility Command’s first officer to be nominated for the Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught Visionary Leadership Award. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Luis Loza Gutierrez)
Capt. Taren Wellman, chief of adverse actions at the 319th Air Base Wing legal office, pauses for a moment after reviewing notes to smile for a photo taken inside her office at the base legal office Mar. 2, 2012, on Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. Wellman became the Air Mobility Command’s first officer to be nominated for the Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught Visionary Leadership Award. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Luis Loza Gutierrez)
by Senior Airman Luis Loza Gutierrez
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
11/15/2012 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The Air Force sponsors various award programs designed to recognize individuals for different types of efforts and accomplishments. It is a rare opportunity to be one of the first nominees for a new Air Force-level award, but that's just the case for one Warrior of the North here.
Capt. Taren Wellman, chief of adverse actions at the 319th Air Base Wing legal office, became the Air Mobility Command's first officer to be nominated for the Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught Visionary Leadership Award.
"I'm humbled to even be considered for this award," said Wellman. "Brigadier General Vaught was a pioneer in her field and still inspires women to join and thrive in military service," added the 27- year old Air Force Academy graduate from Vacaville, Calif.
The prestigious award is named after retired Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, who was the first woman selected for promotion to brigadier general in the comptroller career field and first Air Force female graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Earlier in March of this year, the Air Force announced the creation of the Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught Visionary Leadership Award to honor the accomplishments of female Airmen as a part of the 2012 Joint Women's Leadership Symposium.
The award is given to winners in three categories: officer (O-6 and below); enlisted (E-9 and below); and civilian (GS-15 and below) for demonstrated visionary leadership that expanded opportunities for women and used innovation to inspire others to see the Air Force as a positive place for women to share their talents.
Wellman said she first heard the news about the nomination from her immediate supervisor, Lt. Col. Michael Safko, the 319th Air Base Wing staff judge advocate, who was quick to praise Wellman.
"Captain Wellman has compassion and concern for those she works with and leads. She is a natural teacher and mentor who inspires others to perform at their best," said Safko. "Captain Wellman understands the importance of contributing through personal involvement. Moreover, she continually delivers candid, competent and timely advice, enabling and ensuring mission success. Simply stated, Captain Wellman epitomizes the qualities the Air Force desires in an officer and judge advocate."
Although Safko's praise is sufficient proof of Wellman's merits as an outstanding military attorney and wingman, her reputation as a champion for women extends past the confines of Grand Forks AFB.
Wellman mentored members of her law school alma mater during the University of Montana Women's Law Caucus. She advised funding efforts, which helped raise more than $10,000 in aide for a battered women's home. She also helped facilitate the SOS Women's Leadership Symposium by advocating the keynote speaker and coordinating flyers. The conference was attended by approximately 850 officers.
"I chose to do a lot of the activities because of great leadership and coworkers who encourage the involvement," said Wellman. "Some of these activities include coaching youth soccer, helping with blood drives and habitat for humanity, speaking in front of ROTC cadets and local communities, and Company Grade Officers' Club involvement."
Although Wellman accredited her leadership and coworkers for her community involvement, she didn't hesitate at the opportunity to thank a special man in her life.
"I owe everything to my husband, Luke," said Wellman. "He is and continues to be extremely encouraging and supportive. He always tells me how proud he is, and I wouldn't be able to do the things I love without his encouragement."
When asked how she felt about the potential of becoming the Air Force's first officer to receive the Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught Visionary Leadership Award at the service level, the six-year veteran once again demonstrated her humbled nature.
"In all honesty I'm just honored to even be considered," said Wellman. "Whether I'm chosen or not I hope that this story encourages even just one other person to get more involved with women's issues in the military and their community."
(Story by Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Williams, Jr., contributed to this article)