News: Diamond Sharp airmen: Critical comptroller
Story by Senior Airman Alexxis Pons Abascal
In the wake of Air Force-wide sequestration and fear of consistently shrinking budgets, leaders rely on comptrollers to truly make "Every Dollar Count."
Members with the 27th Special Operations Comptroller Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., provide mission-essential financial services in support of all Air Commandos within the wing.
Being described as the quintessential Diamond Sharp airman is no small compliment for Senior Airman Aisha Melendez, 27 SOCPTS Defense Travel System administrator.
"I am humbled and grateful that my efforts are being recognized," Melendez stated. "This recognition took me back and made me look at the big picture; it really helped me reflect on the overall impact I've made for the period of time I've been at Cannon."
Melendez arrived at Cannon in November 2010 and was immediately described as the go-to airman; she revitalized the Financial Management portion of the Commando Pride Airman Center briefing which led to a 25 percent decrease in travel debts among first-term airmen. Additionally, she revived the Air Force Special Operations Command FM Questionable Indebtedness program, which recouped more than $155,000.
The diligent airman was lauded by Headquarters AFSOC for her efforts during the recent Combined Federal Campaign - processing more than 800 donation forms in less than 24 hours. The Air Commando's tireless work ethic and leadership skills earned her the title of 27th Special Operations Wing Lead Defense Travel Administrator; a job previously held by an NCO.
The lead defense travel administrator is the primary DTS focal point for the installation. Primary responsibilities for an LDTA include interpreting and providing guidance on travel entitlements, providing customer support regarding system operations and conducting audits and staff assistance visits.
"What I love most about my job is the team I work with - from leadership down to my fellow airmen," Melendez said. "We constantly help each other to assist our customers as professionally and efficiently as possible."
Leadership stated that not only has Melendez stepped up to each challenge she faced, but she is surpassing expectations, managing the base's 60 official DTA's, 4,500 annual travels and $22 million TDY program like a seasoned NCO.
"It's always a privilege to serve with truly professional Airmen that are willing to do what it takes to get the job done right," said Master Sgt. Ivanis Washington, 27 SOCPTS. "Senior Airman Melendez is an outstanding airman who exemplifies the Air Force Core Values and it is my pleasure to serve with her. She is truly deserving of the Diamond Sharp award."
The Orlando, Fla., native, is assigned to the 27th Special Operations Wing with her husband and enjoys playing basketball and attending autocross events in her spare time.
Airman Melendez is also actively involved within the local community; volunteering time with Clovis' Big Give, the Great American clean up, and provides assistance to the wing's Airmen Against Drunk Driving program.
Professionally, Melendez is a stellar Air Commando. She was awarded Senior Airman Below the Zone, Wing Staff Agency Airman of the Year, WSA Airman of the Quarter, and played a pivotal role in the 27 SOCPTS being recognized as both the AFSOC Financial Services Office of the Year and United States Special Operations Command Financial Management Organization of the Year.
"Challenges come in many forms; the greatest one I've faced so far was maintaining my focus while my husband was deployed," Melendez explained. "I've made some really great friends here who have become part of my family. My job plays a critical role at Cannon - between the number of missions we fly and construction projects underway, comptrollers are always kept busy ensuring our fellow commandos are taken care of financially."