Commentary

April 26, 2013

First sergeant nothing to fear; here to help

Master Sgt. DAVID MEACHAM
56th Security Forces Squadron

This goes out to everyone in the 56th Fighter Wing, “Do not be afraid of your first sergeant.” We are not the people some may portray us to be. I have heard many times during my six years as a shirt that the only people in the shirt’s office are getting in trouble. That is just a fallacy. It may be true some may be getting ready for an action or punishment from the commander, but it’s not always the case.

The number one reason I see people is because they’re having problems that include a wide range of possibilities. For the most part it’s about getting help from another agency on base like finance or medical, and members don’t know where to start. We can use our contacts and head them in the right direction.

But, we can’t do anything if someone is too afraid to ask for help. I had one individual who received a “zero” mid-month paycheck. He came to me and had no idea where to start. He was very flustered because he got a “zero” paycheck two weeks earlier and he had run out of money. When I inquired as to why he hadn’t come to me earlier he said, “I had money saved for two weeks. I figured it would fix itself. I wasn’t in trouble then and didn’t want to bother you.”

We can’t fix what we don’t know is broken. Members should not be afraid to seek help from a shirt when they need it. It’s always easier to rectify a problem early on when it first happens.

Some Airmen come to my office just for a little mentorship. They may be having a problem with one of their Airmen and would like my input on what I might do in the situation. They also want to know how to deal with a problematic supervisor and how to approach them tactfully. I’m always willing to inform an Airman of what I would do in a particular situation. They don’t have to follow it, but it may help them with a few ideas of their own.

Our business is helping people. Notice how I used the word “people.” We are not just there for the enlisted. Yes, they are our main focus, but we will help anyone who needs it, be it civilians, officers and even contractors. And we are not just here for our individual squadrons. Any shirt on this base is more than willing to help any individual in this wing who might need it. It may be as simple as answering a question. We may get them in contact with their own first sergeant to work the situation, but we will help just the same.

We also help individuals who have legal problems, i.e. Article 15s, administrative demotions, administrative separations, courts martial and more. But it is all help. We help the commander work with the legal office on the paperwork, we help the Airmen get with the Area Defense Council, and we help the supervisors help their Airmen. Even if we know an individual is guilty, we go out of our way to assist individuals with their needs.

The first sergeant’s entire reason of existence is to help Airmen (yes, that’s with a big A.) But we can’t help if we don’t know of the problem. Seek our assistance when you need it, and don’t be afraid of your first sergeant.

Oh, and I almost forgot; you can stop by anytime and just say, “Hi.”




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