Homewood resident Kehinde Salami holds one of the top ranks in the Illinois National Guard. In August, Command Sgt. Maj. Salami was promoted to senior enlisted advisor to the adjutant general advising on the training, management and well-being of the Illinois National Guard’s 13,000 soldiers and airmen.
Salami noted that in his position he is “the senior advisor to the adjutant general on matters related to enlisted service members, influencing the culture within the organization, and coordinating with other senior enlisted leaders nationally and internationally in non-commissioned officer development.”
He has served in the U.S. military in various capacities for the past 31 years.
Salami told the Chronicle: “Serving in the military has been a highlight of my life. Although I initially joined for the benefits, I developed a sense of belonging in the military. The military developed the values my parents raised me with. I live my life by the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.”
Salami enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1993. His first job was as a laboratory technician with the 801st Combat Support Hospital based at Ft. Sheridan, Illinois.
He was called to active duty in 2003 for the Middle East war and trained for overseas duty, but the unit was not deployed.
In 2008, Salami transitioned from the Army to the Illinois National Guard and continued service with the 801st Combat Support Hospital and the 108th MMB taking on various leadership roles. He served as first sergeant for the 708th Ground Ambulance Medical Company during deployment to Egypt from 2012 to 2013 in support of the Multinational Force and Observer Mission.
“Being in Egypt and being able to go to Israel was a once in a lifetime experience,” he said.
Salami has completed all levels of non-commissioned officer education, including the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education and the First Sergeant Course.
During his time in the National Guard, he earned the licensed practical nurse degree. He also received a bachelor of health science degree from Trident University International.
“I am very grateful for the opportunities this country afforded me and very honored to wear the uniform and to serve this great nation,” Salami said. “I believe diversity and the acceptance of diversity is one of our greatest strengths,” and he encourages young people to consider the benefits of joining the military.
Salami also had a 25-year career with the Illinois Department of Corrections. As a youth supervisor in Joliet he served in various capacities, including intelligence officer, internal affairs lieutenant and district intelligence coordinator. He transferred from the juvenile division to the adult division and was the Northern Region Deputy Commander of Investigation until his retirement in December 2021.
Salami, a native of Nigeria, has lived in Homewood with his wife, Juanita Jackson Salami, for 21 years. They have an adult son, Olushola, and two grandsons.