June 7, 2012

‘Not my problem’ not an option for Airmen

Commentary by Master Sgt. Casy Boomershine
81st Logistics Readiness Squadron

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — You have one last stop before going home from a very long Air Force day. Your goal is simple, to purchase liquid refreshment at the Shoppette and get out as quickly as possible, but then you see it. You don’t want to see it, but you do. You heave in a deep sigh, rub your eyes and blink, hoping it was just a trick of the light. No, it was no trick of the light. That Airman is wearing a bright fuchsia backpack while in uniform. At that point you have two options — correct it, or ignore it. Which one do you pick? Does your answer change if I say that it’s someone you know? Is it different if it’s your supervisor? How about if it’s a friend?

What if it’s not something so simple? What if you see a fellow Airman give bad customer service or act unprofessionally in their work place? What do you do? Go ahead; think about it for a minute. I’ll wait. Now answer me this… why?

Your internal dialogue probably addresses their behavior, but do you say anything out loud? Perhaps you stay silent because it’s not your Airman or your work center. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable saying something to someone that outranks you. Maybe you don’t want to be the bad guy, or you don’t want to cause a scene, or you don’t want to be viewed as the person that walks around looking for infractions to correct. It’s easy to rationalize it away, but the fact remains that if you ignore it, you condone it. Worse yet, maybe you don’t see it as your problem.

The Air Force is our Air Force. Each work center is our work center. Each Airman is our Airman.

We are a much smaller force than we used to be. As the Air Force continues to shrink, we need the people who remain to be that much better. Let’s help them to get there. We must continually look out for one another, and sometimes what that means is to take opportunities to help our fellow Airmen be better. Constructive criticism might be the catalyst for change that someone needs, or what they need might be a helping hand. I’m talking about all the ways that we can help each other out. Being a wingman is more than making sure your teammates don’t drive drunk. It’s more than one person can do alone, it’s all Airmen being there for their Air Force family, and trying to make it better.

If someone comes to you for help, don’t send them to someone else because you don’t know how to help them. Find out how you can help them. If you see something wrong, address it; don’t expect someone else to do it. If someone needs help, do what you can to work with them instead of turning a blind eye and watching them struggle through. Don’t consider rank or position a barrier; treat your fellow Airmen as “your” Airmen, because they are.

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