Commentary

July 26, 2012

Who sets the first impression for your unit?

Commentary by Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia
12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) command chief master sergeant

Recently, I was at the Tucson International Airport returning home from a TDY when I noticed a very young airman basic; who from all appearances was arriving at his first-duty location. We were both at the luggage claim area at the same time and I took note that he was lugging around basically everything he owned with him. I looked around and was both surprised and disappointed that I didn’t see another person in uniform there to greet him. My luggage hadn’t made it out of the chute yet and I was standing almost next to him when he reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone and put it on “speaker” mode. When anyone does this, I think you almost invite anyone within earshot range to be a part of your conversation, so I was further disappointed to hear the other person on the line start to give him directions on how to get from the airport to the front-gate of Davis-Monthan. I’ve only been assigned here for a little over 7-months, but I can’t recall every seeing a taxi on the base. In my mind I could see this Airman pulling two huge rolling bags, another carry-on, a backpack and a pillow under his arm from the front-gate to wherever he needed to go in 105 degree heat. Unsat.

To make a long story short, my family and I gave him a ride and delivered him safely to the base. In the course of 20 minutes, I found out where his hometown was, what his parents did for a living, how old his siblings were and so much more. Since then, I’ve ran into him at the fitness center several times and we’ve high-fived each other as we move from one equipment piece to the other. While we’ve never really talked about it, I’d like to believe that he knows that I have his back.

I’m either a great or poor example of our sponsorship program. I’ve been on both ends. Many, many years ago I was a very young 18 year-old airman basic arriving at Travis Air Force Base to begin what I thought would be the adventure of my life. I found out later that my sponsor was serving a 30-day sentence in a “re-blueing” program we used to call “correctional custody.” He was apparently the architect and Master of Ceremonies for the nightly three-ring circus that happened in the dorms every night, my sponsor…and first impression of the base. I failed to mention that I arrived on base right before the start of a three-day weekend and with my “sponsor” in the clinker, didn’t have a clue where anything on the base was. I was alone, tired, lonely, broke, home sick and survived off of hot dogs from the bowling alley across the street for the three days before I reported to my duty-section that Monday morning. Welcome to the Air Force!

Since that time, I made a commitment that I would welcome any new Airman under my charge in the same manner that I would like to be received. In fact, I’d like to believe that I receive my Airmen as if their parents were standing two feet behind them. The act however, must be genuine and heartfelt or I encourage you to go and find someone else to do it. I think it sets the tone for the rest of your tour. It makes a huge difference; I recently talked to another airman basic in our unit whose sponsor had done such a great job, that we recognized his efforts in a recent roll call. This young man had gone so far as to take up a collection in his duty-section so that they could put a “bed-in-a-bag” and a fruit basket in his dorm room for his arrival. I asked him how that made him feel and he said, “Chief, it made me feel like I belong here.” What else can you say to that?

Undisputable evidence supports the statement that people who have a strong sense of purpose and feel a part of a team are less likely to participate in self-defeating behavior. With the resiliency issues throughout our services I think that a strong approach to making people feel welcome from day one would only benefit our efforts. It makes perfect sense to me, that you address one of the fundamental pillars, the social-interaction aspect. In addition, appointing well qualified members to perform sponsorship duties can send the right message from the onset. In light of this, I would ask you “Who sets the first impression for your unit?” Is the first impression set by the first sergeant, the commander, the chief, a razor-sharp non-commissioned officer in uniform at the airport, or is it set by a complainer in board shorts, flip-flops with a six-pack of beer under an arm?

Airman Tapia




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Grant)

AFSOUTH Liaison Officers: Embarking on a journey toward a promising future

Colonel Alex Voigt has only been serving as the Air Forces Southern Chilean Liaison Officer at Davis-Monthan for a couple of months, but with a history of Chilean LNOs reaching the rank of general and one even going on to serve...
 
 

D-M commander mixes it up with ‘The Morning Blend’

(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey) U.S. Air Force Col. James P. Meger, 355th Fighter Wing commander, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., talks with TV hosts, Tina Jennings and Maria Parmigiani, during a live recording of “The Morning Blend” at KGUN9 Studio, Tucson, Nov. 24. Meger went on the show to...
 
 

Let’s talk turkey: Prepare the perfect bird this holiday season

Whether having a big group over to share the Thanksgiving festivities or it’s just you and the Family, the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving table is the turkey. Guests will graze around the appetizer table careful not to fill their bellies in anticipation of the plump, juicy turkey and all the fixin’s. Most people aren’t world-renowned...
 

 
DoD

New allotment rule protects troops from lending scams

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has directed a policy change in new paycheck allotments to prevent unscrupulous commercial lenders from taking advantage of troops and their families, Pentagon officials said Nov. 21. According to a Defense Department news release, effective Jan. 1, 2015, the change in DOD’s financial management regulation will prohibit service...
 
 

Officials highlight health, wellness resources for Military Families

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 – As efforts continue to strengthen service members and their families, Pentagon officials held a Bloggers Roundtable to highlight the myriad resources available to tackle the unique military and transitional challenges those who serve may face. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Rosemary Freitas Williams, Marine Corps...
 
 

Thanksgiving and our Native Americans

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — On the fourth Thursday of every November, we as Americans celebrate the national holiday Thanksgiving. This day focuses on honoring the early settlers, and their harvest feast, which we know to be the “First Thanksgiving.” However, long before settlers came to the United States’ East Coast, the area was inhabited by...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin