Tag Archives: Airmen

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How did we lose this young Airman?

Editor’s note: The attached feature photo is a stock image, and is not directly related to the accompanying commentary .

By Col. Donald Grannan
88th Communications Group commander

She was an Airman Leadership School distinguished graduate, earned staff sergeant her first time testing, received all 5s on her enlisted performance reports and took part in two deployments. Clearly she was a high-performing Airman.

But, in her words, the Air Force had made it clear it didn’t want her. Huh?

I have proudly served our Air Force all of my adult life, so I truly didn’t understand. Although I wasn’t in her chain of command, I’ve known this young woman throughout her career. I tried to reflect on this from a professional, albeit admittedly biased, point of view. What would make this superstar believe we didn’t care if she stayed or not?

Was it a bad first impression? I remembered an incident that involved her as a new Airman at her first duty station. A senior NCO struck her car from behind in a minor fender-bender. Instead of admitting fault and moving on, he berated and intimidated this young Airman about the issue. Her first sergeant, who she looked to for help, would not interject or discuss the issue with the senior NCO. I could have interjected as well, but I mistakenly believed it wasn’t my place. It was. An Airman needed help, and no one gave it.

Was it a lack of encouragement? After she earned staff sergeant her first time eligible, she saw the results online on the Air Force Web. Then … nothing until the following Monday when the first sergeant stopped by to congratulate her and said the commander was “really busy.”

When she was a distinguished graduate from Airman Leadership School, it was a highlight in her career. But other than her immediate supervisor, no one from her squadron chain of command was present. I know, because I was there.

Was it motivation? She was a veteran of two deployments, including one where she had a few days notice to support a humanitarian operation. By chance I saw her and another Airman at a connecting airport as I was returning from a temporary duty assignment. I saw their apprehension and anxiety and made sure they understood to take care of each other, trust their training and focus on the mission. But I wondered if their own leadership had talked to them like this.

Did we at least send her out the door with a smile, to encourage others toward an Air Force career? No. Instead her superiors decided there would be no decoration for this outstanding Airman who achieved a lot in a short period of time and who was highly lauded by her supervisors.

Why? Because she had once failed a physical fitness test, immediately re-took it, and passed. She had tried to ‘wing it,’ failed the run and learned a lesson.

This young, healthy Airman, who weighs a buck-twenty-five, did not have a fitness or standards problem. She had a leadership problem. No one in her squadron leadership knew about or was present to witness her exceptional duty performance, her distinguished graduate accomplishment, her two deployments or early promotion. But they sure knew about the one time she stumbled.

In the end we took an exceptional, highly motivated volunteer and did we mold her? No way. Did we encourage her? Not a chance. Did we create a new leader? No. We created someone who cares about our nation, but is disillusioned and frustrated about what our Air Force finds important and unimportant. We lost an enormous opportunity, and we can’t afford to repeat that mistake.

Today, more than ever, as our ranks continue to decline, we must retain the best and most highly motivated Airmen. To do that, we have to lead them, be in the fight with them and focus on what’s truly important and not become hyper-focused on marginal or anecdotal issues.

How many more situations like this are out there? If you’re in a leadership position, are you part of this problem? Do you know the people under you? Are you in the fight, witnessing their capabilities, encouraging and motivating them, or do you only know about them when they stumble? If you think command or leadership positions are just another assignment, you’re part of the problem.

Ask yourself, when was the last time a troop brought you a problem? If that’s not happening, it’s because they don’t believe you can, or will, help them. So get busy proving to them they can count on you, and you’ll be surprised how well you can count on them.

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Perils of being ‘not-so-innocent’ bystander

By Master Sgt. Jason W. Edwards
18th Wing Public Affairs

I was accused of sexual assault. Even after 21 years, it’s still not easy to admit that. It was 1993, and I was a young airman basic at Lowry Air Force Base, Colo. I was in technical school learning how to be an Air Force photographer.

My class consisted of eight male Airmen and Marines, and one female Airman. She told us right up front she didn’t want to be treated any differently than anyone else. We were to consider her “one of the guys.”

So we did.

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A silent victim is a victim forever

Combating sexual assault

By Gen. Larry O. Spencer
Air Force vice chief of staff

Just as Airmen broke the sound barrier and pioneered new paths to space, Airmen will pioneer new ways to prevent sexual assault in the Air Force.

Preventing this crime is not easy; if it were, you, America’s Airmen, would already have eliminated it from our force. As we begin this new fiscal year, I ask for your help in pioneering new ways to prevent sexual assault in the force. To be clear, preventing sexual assault focuses on the individual who commits the crime and how to intervene before a crime takes place.

Whether the campaign is called ‘Inherent Resolve,’ ‘Airmen Powered by Innovation,’ or ‘Every Airman Counts,’ your ideas are at the forefront of solving every challenge the Air Force faces, and eliminating sexual assault is no different.

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Discussing Options

October 9 Recruitment Tweet Chat

By the Air Force Public Affairs Agency

The Air Force Recruiting Service and the Air Force social media team participated in their monthly tweet chat Oct. 9 and received 70 recruitment questions from Twitter followers. During the hour-long Web event, the teams answered questions about enlistment requirements, the Delayed Enlistment Program and other career field-specific questions. If you weren’t able to join the conversation, here are all the questions and answers from the chat.

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Safeguarding your digital footprint

By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Social media is a great resource for Airmen and their families to share information and stay connected to relatives at home and abroad.

Although many depend on these wonderful tools, recent events have encouraged us to re-evaluate our digital footprint to ensure our personal and professional information is protected from online predators and individuals who want to do us harm.


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