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Emergency preparedness IMA serves as NC lawmaker

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Timm Huffman
  • HQ RIO Public Affairs
Col. J. Chris Whitmire, an Individual Mobilization Augmentee assigned to Readiness and Integration Organization Detachment 6, has made it his mission to serve the people of his home state of North Carolina.

In addition to his Air Force role as an Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer with the National Security Emergency Preparedness Directorate, Headquarters Air Forces Northern, Tyndall AFB, Forida, he was also elected to his first term as a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Since 2009, Whitmire has been an Air Force EPLO and is currently assigned to North Carolina.  It's his job to work closely with state and local emergency responders to coordinate federal military air support during natural and man-made disasters. He also engages with key local, state and federal policy makers to know emergency response plans, capabilities, operational procedures and potential shortcomings. Armed with this knowledge, he can identify and coordinate military support during emergencies.

"As the EPLO to North Carolina, I can directly help my fellow state residents by saving lives, preventing human suffering and mitigating property damage caused by natural and man-made disasters," said Whitmire.

The colonel, who is also a senior pilot with over 4,000 flying hours, primarily in the KC-135 and C-21, decided to up his service to his state by making a move on Raleigh. In 2012 he ran and was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives, representing Transylvania, Southern Henderson and Polk Counties. He will soon complete his first legislative term.

During his busy first season as a lawmaker, Whitmire focused on representing military interests. Thanks to his efforts, five bills favoring the military passed into law. Two of these bills directly help veterans by providing them credit for experience and education received during their time of military service.

House Bill 767, The Brass to Class Act, for which he was a primary sponsor, streamlines the process veterans must follow to transition into public classrooms as teachers by ensuring they are granted credit for their relevant experience, formal certifications and training, leadership roles and formal education.

Additionally, House Bill 1047, Credit for Military Training, grants civilian credentialing and licensing for equivalent military training, experience and formal coursework. Other bills the colonel worked included one preventing encroachment around military installations and another regarding the permitting of wind energy facilities to protect existing low-level military flight routes.

While he's careful not to mix politics and his military career, he knows others in the General Assembly value his service and the experience he brings to the table. The fact that he's an active Reservist also lends him credibility when it comes to military affairs.

"As one of only five out of 170 state legislators serving in the North Carolina General Assembly actively serving as a Reservist or National Guardsman, and the most senior one by rank, I often identify needed legislation related to military issues," said Whitmire.

He sees the issues of credit for military training and education as important issues for both the individual veteran and his home state, where he operates a business and lives on his family's 100-year-old farm.  From an economic perspective, awarding credits and certifications to veterans encourages a highly-skilled veteran work force to stay in the state. At the same time, the legislation looks out for veterans.

"These laws grant credit where credit is due for veteran's formal training, experience and coursework," he said.

In total, during the 2013-2014 legislative season, Whitmire authored or primary-sponsored 17 bills into law and had the most statewide bills enacted into law of any of the 43 first-term house members. He also served key roles on ten standing committees, including agriculture, military, education and commerce.

His efforts in the State House were recognized in Washington, D.C., Sept. 12, when he was awarded ACT! for America's 2014 National Security Eagle Award. He received this honor for "exemplary courage and statesmanship in defense of America's security and freedoms."

"This was certainly a great honor to receive, but having the opportunity and venue to pursue purposeful laws that make the district, state and nation better are my greatest motivation," Whitmire said.