A warrior scholar

By Master Sgt. Todd Wivell on April 6, 2017

Capt. Brad Fisher, 62nd Operations Group commander's inspection program chief, was notified March 22 of his selection to the Olmsted Scholarship Program, a leadership program offered to only a small number of Air Force officers each year.

The Olmsted Foundation was established by General George H. Olmsted in 1959. His vision was for military officers to be broadly educated, culturally aware, and uniquely experienced. Olmsted was a successful entrepreneur and West Point graduate who served throughout World War II.

The Olmsted Foundation selects active-duty officers from all branches to spend up to three years learning a language, immersing themselves in another culture, and pursuing a graduate degree taught in the native language.

This program aims to produce the next generation of warrior-scholars.

Fisher is one of those "warrior-scholars" who first learned about this program 10 years ago as a junior at Norwich University.

"I was encouraged by faculty members to apply for a summer immersion program sponsored by the Olmsted Foundation," said Fisher. "I and four other cadets spent two weeks in Kazakhstan traveling the country and participating in CENTCOM's Exercise Regional Cooperation 2007, a scenario built to simulate a mass-casualty disaster with the goal of building partnerships throughout the region.

"This experience was life-changing and the Olmsted Scholarship has been a goal ever since."

Fisher hails from Lakeville, Massachusetts, and is a C-17A Globemaster III airdrop evaluator pilot. He commissioned from the Norwich University Corps of Cadets in 2008 and attended the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

From there he trained in the C-17 and was off to the 15th Airlift Squadron "Global Eagles" at Joint Base Charleston from 2010 until 2014.  His next adventure was to the 8th Airlift Squadron "Workhorses" here at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

In August 2016, Fisher submitted his application to the Air Force Personnel Center.

Applicants must have a strong operational, professional, and academic record in addition to minimum scores on the Graduate Record Examination and the Defense Language Aptitude Battery test. Fluency in another language is not required.

AFPC holds a board to determine finalists and then the Olmsted Foundation conducts interviews before making their final selections.

Five of the 13 Air Force finalists were selected for the scholarship this year.

Fisher applied to conduct his scholarship in Kyiv, Ukraine, and was selected for this as his first choice.

"Cierra (my wife) and I will be moving to our first-choice location; Kyiv, Ukraine," said Fisher. "Our motivation was to immerse ourselves in a country that is critical to international affairs. Ukrainians are incredibly resilient and have a rich culture that we are so excited to learn more about.

"We will PCS (permanent change of station) this summer to the Defense Language Institute for a year-long Ukrainian language program prior to heading overseas."

Fisher's wife was ecstatic about this life changing move.

"I am very excited for this adventure," said Cierra. "The Olmsted foundation stresses the importance of cultural immersion as a family and will pay for spouses to learn the language as well.

"As a professional counselor I've been fortunate enough to help children in need everywhere that the military has taken us. I'm excited to learn about Ukrainian culture and for the opportunity to continue my work by supporting children abroad."

According to the Fishers, they are appreciative of the mentors and friends who made this possible for them and are humbled by the tremendous opportunity they have been afforded.

"The Olmsted Scholarship is a tremendous crucible," said Fisher. "Cierra and I hope to face that challenge head on and to return armed with a new perspective on life."