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Defining an Airman leader

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sarah Hall-Kirchner
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Two and a half years after my First Term Airman Course, I asked my supervisor for permission to attend an Airman Enhancement Program.
I hoped to get many benefits from the class, but I never expected to get as much out of the four-day session as I did.

"How do you define yourself as an Airman?"

That question was posed to me and 33 other Airmen over and over again by senior enlisted members during the class.

Those who briefed us consistently challenged us to have the right attitude, be the best Airman that we can be, volunteer, find the right mentor and live the Air Force culture.
Every briefing, every briefer, impacted me deeply as I evaluated myself as an Airman, a leader and a mentor.

These base leaders, first sergeants, chiefs and supervisors challenged us to change as Airmen and to uphold the Air Force core values. They asked us to lead and mentor at our level.

I began to question myself, my actions in my work center and my own attitude. I began to realize that the future of the Air Force depends on the Airmen who are in our ranks right now, including me. Instead of worrying about things that did not matter, I started to realize that I truly am part of something bigger than myself.

We are part of the United States Air Force. We are the representatives of a nation throughout the world during wartime and through humanitarian missions. We must live and bleed the core values of the Air Force - integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.

How can I live up to this huge responsibility? I learned that it starts with my own attitude. I have to have the right attitude, and I have to show it to the Airmen who I encounter every day.

I have to commit to the Air Force. It doesn't matter if I am a first term Airman or a career Airman, for whatever length of time I have signed on the dotted line and raised my right hand, I need to be committed to the Air Force 100 percent.

Every briefer encouraged us to find at least one mentor.  Fortunately, I have an amazing mentor.

Job performance is a huge part of being in the Air Force. I have a responsibility to do the very best at my job every single day, even if I don't like what I am doing. We all do. Committing to my job is an important part of defining myself as an Airman.

As Airmen we have to have goals and as we attain them, we need to set new goals. I never really thought that goals were as important as they are, but I have set some goals for myself now. I have also got a plan "B" and a plan "C."

Goals are important because they set us on a path and show us where we are going or need to go. It helps us to determine if we are doing things just to do them, or if they really matter.

Another point that was addressed several times was working as a team. Working with other Airmen and other military members is something most of us do every day. At some point in our careers, we all end up working in teams. It is important that we all know how to be a good teammate and leader, if we need to take that position.

Information was freely given during this class, and I benefited from it.  Mostly, I fully realized, for the first time, my true responsibilities as an Airman. I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to take this course, and I would encourage other Airmen who are between FTAC and Airman Leadership School to jump at any opportunity to attend this course.

Any time I get discouraged from now on, I'm going to try to remember, I am the only one who is choosing the type of Airman I want to be. I am in control of my career. I am living my legacy right now. Is this the legacy I want?