An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

To be a great team member, get involved

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Chuck Crouse
  • 375th Operations Support Squadron
Arriving at Scott Air Force Base in March 2014, I knew that my first operational assignment would be unlike anything I had ever experienced. After only a few months in the operational Air Force, I had essentially no experience and for the first time in more than five years, I was not surrounded by my peers on a daily basis.

Upon arrival at my unit, I realized that I was the only lieutenant. I know now this isn't unusual, but I did not expect it, especially when I spent all of tech school with many other lieutenants. This caused some unexpected changes in my daily routine and the tasks that my job required. I didn't have immediate peers to learn from and a common link to fall back on in good times and bad. Needless to say, I was in an entirely unfamiliar situation.

Regardless of the difficulties that I faced, I realized that if I was going to be an effective team member, I needed to be comfortable in my unit whether I was surrounded by my immediate peers or people of vastly varying ranks. The epiphany struck me one day when I was reading an article in the Command Post in which an officer was highlighted who wholeheartedly believed in growing and flourishing no matter where life sends you. I took this idea of "blooming where planted" to heart and took it upon myself to learn more about my people and get to know them beyond mere formalities. I jumped at any opportunity to learn about not only what they did for their jobs, but also who they were as people. I felt as though I had a decent relationship with members of my squadron beforehand, but taking the extra step to talk to others and reach out in any situation that the job allowed helped to improve all my connections.

For those reading this article, especially for young officers and first-term airmen arriving at their new units, I have three key pieces of advice. The first is to be prepared for anything upon reaching your new assignment. You could be surrounded by peers, you could be alone in a squadron, or it could be something or somewhere even more unexpected. No matter the situation, do your best to feel comfortable in a new assignment, be eager to learn and excel at anything and everything your job requires.
The second tip is to reach out as much as possible. Don't shut yourself off just because you might be frustrated or nervous in a new situation. Ask questions, get to know people and what they do, and take part in squadron events as much as possible. Not only will it help ease your transition into a new unit, but it will set an example for others and show them that any situation can be a place to flourish.

The third and final piece of advice was briefly mentioned above, and that is to "bloom where planted." There are bases around the world and jobs in the Air Force that are often considered more desirable than others, but we all signed up to serve our country and that means excelling and being a positive member of our great service regardless of where our respective journeys take us. No matter where the Air Force sends you or how difficult certain situations can be, remember to keep a positive attitude and give back to our country by being an example for everyone around you. Adhering to this mentality throughout your career will minimize negativity and cynicism while letting your true potential shine.

I struggled somewhat when I first arrived at Scott, but I am glad I made the necessary changes. Just because I was and still am an inexperienced lieutenant did not mean that I had to be uncomfortable or lament my situation. Fortunately, I also had an incredible squadron full of great people who were easy to reach out to and eager to help with work, life, and anything else that came up. Reaching out can be difficult and it is easy to stay in the same routine day after day, but finally taking the initiative and getting to know my unit more thoroughly has been more rewarding than I ever anticipated.