Get educated on being best Airman possible

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Wendy Brazier
  • 56th Logisitcs Readiness Squadron
We frequently hear the phrase "educate yourself" in the Air Force. When I say to my Airmen to educate yourself, I'm not referring to on-the-job training or off-duty education. Not that those aren't important, but I mean educating yourself on information out there pertinent to you as the lowest Airman, first-line supervisor, junior NCO, seasoned senior NCO or our officer corps.

As a prior member of personnel who served in the career field for more than 16 years, it is exciting, yet sad, to see the Air Force going virtual. I consider myself "old school," and with everything going virtual I think we have lost touch with our clients with so little face-to-face customer service offered like we had "back in the day." The "go-to" person, the "belly button," that one person who knew the right answer, is no longer accessible.

The bottom line is that the pool of face-to-face customer service personnel is much smaller and it's now up to us to educate and help ourselves. It's up to you to read the fine print if you are applying for retraining through vMPF, to make sure you meet the requirements and the suspense; it's up to you to log onto vMPF to ensure your data verification rip is correct in preparation for weighted airman promotion system testing; it's up to you to get on-line to find out when the next overseas enlisted quarterly assignment listing will be available and update your dream sheet on time in order to be considered; it's on you to apply on-line for a correction to records; and it's up to you to check on the status of your career job reservation.

The personnel world is not the only one going virtual or consolidating. Just look at joint personal property shipping office for your household goods delivery, legal for filing claims, and finance and Defense Travel System. It used to be the norm to file a hard copy travel voucher; now it's the exception.

In the midst of all of these technological advances we have lost some checks and balances because supervisor involvement or coordination is virtually not required. That means the "I's" aren't getting dotted and the "Ts" aren't getting crossed, which is resulting in many exceptions to policy.

It's no secret the Air Force is the smartest and most educated among our sister services. However, we have to do better as a corps to take the time to educate ourselves and our subordinates on the things that can impact careers and future opportunities. That means the inexperienced staff sergeant needs to know about the effects of changing a rater, the young flight officer-in-charge needs to know when their enlisted are in the retraining window, and the seasoned senior NCO needs to know that their subordinates don't meet the requirements for the base of preference they are applying for.

Education isn't only about receiving information, but also about sharing information, both up and down the chain and cross- sharing with peers. I challenge you to educate yourself and think of it as adding to your educational experience versus "doing someone else's job." Take interest in your career and the careers of those you serve. Set them up for success by ensuring they are fully educated. Who knows, you may just learn something in the process.