Commentary

April 20, 2012

What company do you keep?

by Master Sgt. Jason Champagne and 2nd Lt. Christopher Clawson
56th Logistics Readiness Squadron Readiness

“I didn’t get here on my own.”

It is a common statement that Airmen hear at nearly every promotion ceremony. Many people helped them along the way. These include supervisors, mentors and family members.

The bonds they form with other Airmen are unique to military life. We have more than just coworker and supervisory relationships; we build life-long camaraderie.

We volunteered to defend the freedom many civilians take for granted. Three aspects of military relationships are distinctly different than those bonds formed by civilians.

First, the bond developed between service members is much closer than civilians in the private sector who just see each other every day at work. We form relationships throughout a career and these bonds can be as strong as it is for someone in a tightly knit family.

Every military member signs an unlimited liability clause and, because of that agreement, these relationships come with the territory; you pledge your life in defense of the Nation. We have chosen a career of self sacrifice. We draw together as a cohesive unit that cannot be replicated in any career field outside of the military.

Second, the supervisors and leaders appointed over us play an extremely significant role in our development, both professionally and personally. We may need a course correction in our career progression, but, when done tactfully and with respect, it can change a life forever. A supervisor’s impact can guide you for many years by instilling a sense of pride and respect in what you are doing for your country. Moreover, these supervisors take over a role much like a parent. They train, guide and care for the Airmen under their supervision. It’s a total commitment.

Finally, support comes from those who work for you. These are the men and women who make you succeed or fail. If you motivate and develop your subordinates, they will work harder and more efficiently for you. These future Air Force leaders are an investment that will pay dividends for many years. The Airmen who work for you will be forever grateful for the time you dedicated to them. This is a relationship that will leave an indelible mark on a person for the rest of his or her life.

No individual can stand by himself. Airmen depend on the strengths of many people around them, forming unique relationships.

At the end of the day, you work hard to do your part of the mission. It is the people you meet and the relationships you foster that will forever impact your life as you move up the ranks and get promoted. It is up to you to make these relationships the best possible.




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