Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ross Whitmore was the first openly gay Commander at the Air Force Special Operations Headquarters. He faced many personal and professional challenges because of this deliberate decision, but still successfully fulfilled his duties as a Commander. His openness provided a safe space for many colleagues to share their own struggles and led to a public speaking invitation by the Gay-Straight Alliance to share his struggles of living under the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.
During his career as an officer in the Air Force Medical Corp, Ross provided Command level leadership, policy development, and disaster intervention. Ross has served as Medical Commander in the 1st Special Operations Wing, additionally, he created the 27th Special Operations Wing Clinical and Operational Psych Support Program and was the first-ever Air Force Social Worker selected for both the elite Survival Evasion Resistance Escape training and the Special Operations Combat Rescue Officer Selection Cadre. Overseeing screening and selection of elite operators to rescue US service members stranded behind enemy lines.
As a member of the Surgeon General’s staff for the largest Major Command, Ross was responsible for all mental health services for 13 Bases. Concerned with the rising suicide rate within the Air Force, Ross assembled a task force to develop policy and protocol for the command to care for suicidal and other high-risk service members and their families. This policy mandated close coordination with the base mental health clinic, civilian medical resources, and the supervisor and Commander of the service member. This policy and protocol were then adopted as the standard of care for the entire Air Force in managing high-risk service members.
Ross holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Educational Psychology with a Major in Special Education from Brigham Young University and a Master’s degree in Social Work from The Ohio State University. After joining the Air Force, he continued his education with Graduate Level Senior Professional Education at the Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College. Ross retired from active duty in 2016. He is the proud father of two daughters.
September 7th, 2023 | Season 4 | 1 hr 6 mins
advocacy, american legion, assault, community, connection, dignity, gwot, healing, honor, leadership, microaggression, military, military service, military sexual trauma, moral injury, mst, poetry, post-9/11, ptsd, racism, recovery, resiliency, service, sharp training, suicide, trauma, trust, veteran
Tango Alpha Lima is a podcast from The American Legion. Learn more at www.legion.org/tangoalphalima.