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December Shirt Blast

Master Sgt. Daniel Tatum, 169th Civil Engineer Squadron first sergeant

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Tatum, the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron 1st Sgt., is awarded South Carolina Air National Gaurd 1st Sgt. of the Year for 2018. Portrait taken Dec. 18, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Caycee Watson)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

We are part of an organization that is constantly adapting, striving to be as efficient as possible. Whether you joined before 9/11 when the deployment ops tempo was much slower than we have seen over the last few decades or you have been in the Air Force for only a few years, you can look back and see how the Air Force has changed since you raised your right hand. If we are part of an organization that is constantly improving and reinventing itself, then we also need to have the same mindset.

How can you improve yourself as an Airman? It’s easy: knowledge. If you are a new Airman, learn how the Air Force works. Learn how the command structure is laid out. Learn what is expected of you. Learn all the benefits allotted to you. While you are learning, don’t forget to ask why these things are important. So many times I have been given an answer with the explanation of “that’s the way it’s always been done” or “that’s what was told to me.” Not surprisingly, most of the time that information is incorrect. You might be reading this while sitting in the pod shop, med group, or at security forces but

you are part of a larger organization. Reach out to your fellow Airmen who are the subject matter experts and learn the how and why of things that are not in your wheelhouse. There is no reason anyone on this base should not be proficient in writing an EPR. Know what educational benefits are afforded to us or understand how an LOD works. I don’t want to write a feel good article just about what you should do without delivering actionable information that you can use. So below is a quick reference of guide of tools you can use to become a better Airman outside of your AFSC job knowledge

Enlisted development plan

This is designed to provide a roadmap for the overall development of enlisted Airmen. It is broken down by rank and what you should be focusing on and what your next steps are. If you do not already have this, ask your supervisor or first sergeant.

Professional development

Hosted by the human resource advisor on drill weekends, professional development tackles one topic at a time and does a deep dive. Topics include but are not limited to EPR writing, points system, thrift savings plan and reduced retirement age. Get with your first sergeant if you are interested in attending.

Airmen, 5/6, Top 3 councils

Iron sharpens iron. One of the best things you can do to become a better-rounded professional is network with people outside of your career field. This is also an opportunity to bring your ideas to the table and try to impact change.

In residence courses

If you are a sharp professional who wants to improve yourself, apply to do your primary military education (Airman Leadership School, NCO Academy, etc.) in-residence. It’s a simple packet to apply; the networking and in-person lessons will be worth it. There are also courses offered throughout the year for those who meet the rank requirements. Check out the link to see some of the opportunities (https://usaf.dps.mil/sites/13644/SitePages/Enlisted%20Development.aspx)

There are more opportunities as well that your first sergeant should be aware of. Get with your unit training manager if you are interested. It is an individual responsibility to improve yourself. The tools and resources are out there. You just have to know where to look, who to ask and have the self-motivation to make it happen. Adaptability is one of the keys to air power and air power is made up of each one of us who puts on the uniform to serve.

Stay ready. Stay resilient. Stay Lethal