SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. — A good Airmen seeks out personal and professional development to ensure their growth as a wingman, leader and warrior.
January is National Mentorship Month and ensuring “excellence in all we do” means making mentorship a part of every day.
“I’m where I am today because people took the time to mentor me,” said Senior Master Sgt. Rick Walker, 20th Medical Operations Squadron superintendent.
In Air Force Manual 36-3401, mentorship is defined as a relationship in which a person with greater experience and wisdom guides another person to develop both personally and professionally.
“A mentor helps by being a trusted advisor, teacher, counselor, and friend,” said Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Hendricks, 20th Comptroller Squadron superintendent. “A mentor will give candid advice, help you avoid pitfalls, provide a path for success, and sometimes just be available to listen and show support.”
Not only is being a mentor important, but taking the time to be mentored is part of being a constantly improving Airman.
“Seeking out mentorship early in your career has a significant impact to your success, or lack of it,” said Walker. “I am grateful to all of those NCO’s, senior NCO’s and officers who took the time to guide me and help me become who I am today.”
Mentoring is an essential ingredient in developing well-rounded, professional, and competent future leaders, according to AFMAN 36-3401.
One way the 20th Fighter Wing has taken mentorship seriously is the Shaw Chief’s Group shadow program. The program was started to afford young Airmen the opportunity to spend a day with a chief to learn from and receive mentorship throughout the experience.
“I was given the opportunity to experience the ins and outs of a typical chief’s duty day,” said Senior Airman Daisy King, 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron health services management journeyman. “They’re always prepared to take on whatever the day might throw at them. It was truly an eye opener.”
Not only does the 20th FW have provide ways to gain more work related experience, but also personal development through mentorship.
Started by Chaplain (Maj.) Richard Holmes, 20th FW deputy chaplain, the Marriage Mentorship Program pairs young married couples with married couples who had been married for more than six years. The self-paced program covers several areas of marriage including communication, resolving conflict, and making the most of deployments.
From feedback sessions to lifelong advice, mentorship can be received and given on a day-to-day basis.
“People watch everything you do and say,” said Walker. “Each one of us says, ‘I either want to be like that person, or I hope I’m never like them’. Every moment is an opportunity to mentor.”
The Air Force needs Airmen who are continually bettering themselves through professional development, education and personal growth, expecting all Airmen to be mentors and mentees.
Everyone should be willing to be a mentor. Falling in line with “Airman Up,” Airmen should constantly be seeking out mentorship to improve themselves personally, professionally, and through education, said Hendricks.
“Airman Up!” is a newly instituted initiative for the 20th FW that is in part, working to become a better Airman today than yesterday through resiliency and personal improvement.
“Great Airmen are not only dedicated to personal improvement,” said Hendricks, “but also are willing to help guide, shape, and grow our replacements and future leaders. In our ever changing Air Force we cannot remain current, balanced, or resilient without a trusted advisor, a mentor.”