Are you 'in' the Air Force?

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Karl Kile
  • 3rd Mission Support Squadron/Wing Staff Agencies first sergeant
This past week marked an important milestone as I crossed my 16-year mark in the Air Force. Ironically, I was home on leave where it all started when this milestone occurred. 

As my dad introduced me to several of his friends, many of them asked me the same question: "What do you do?" My answer now is always: "I am in the Air Force." However, my answer to this seemingly simple question has changed quite a bit since I was a young Airman. Back then I would respond that "I worked in base supply." It took me several years to discover that I had only "joined" the Air Force back in 1992, but was not quite "in" it yet. 

So do you think you are "in" the Air Force? Sure, we all enlisted or were commissioned, but I liken that to just being happy that you "made the team." Our Air Force and country need Airmen that are not content with just being on the team, but are willing to learn and grow to one day lead the team. 

Our team is constantly being rebuilt as Airmen join, separate and retire. Becoming an Air Force leader takes many years of commitment, hard work, education and experience. So are you committed to preparing yourself and your Airmen to lead our Air Force? 

Taking on a task of this magnitude requires you not only "join" the Air Force, but also that you are fully committed to being "in" the Air Force. Here are a few questions to help you determine if you are "in" the Air Force: 

· Do you own a mess dress and attend base events such as Professional Military Education graduations, the Air Force Ball, Dining Ins/Outs and Senior NCO Induction Ceremonies? Incredibly, there are always opportunities for everyone to attend these events, but somehow we always seem to have the same people attending. It would be nice to see some different faces around the dinner table. 

You should also expect your Airmen to do the same. Sure, they will moan and groan at first, but eventually they will realize these events separate us from Wal-Mart and IBM.

· Are you an active member of a professional organization such as the Top 3, Air Force Sergeants Association or any one of the many organizations who look out for us as Airmen? Now before you check "yes" and move on, consider what "active" means. Being active is not just doing something for a bullet on your performance report, but actually doing something great for the benefit of others all year long and not just at EPR or awards time.

· Are you comfortable in your current job? Comfort usually means you have stopped growing professionally. Take on a larger role in our Air Force by getting out of your comfort zone to give back to the Air Force by becoming a first sergeant, recruiter, PME instructor or military training instructor.

· Are you "out" of the Air Force after 4:30 p.m.? This is a tough one because it covers so many areas. Do you stay late without someone having to ask you to ensure the mission gets accomplished? Sure, that work will be there tomorrow, but so will more work. Sometimes you have to stay late and push it out.

Do you know and tell the Air Force story when you are back home on leave or while representing the Air Force in the local community? Do you wear your hat from your car to your house even though no one would see you? Would you care enough to correct someone else who was not wearing their hat? Do you purposely avoid going outside when retreat or reveille are about to play or do you hurry outside so you can pay respect to our flag? 

I am sure there are many other signs that someone is "in" the Air Force, but I can guarantee if you are answering "yes" to most of the questions above you are well on your way to being "in" the Air Force and on track for a very successful career. 

If not, please hurry and get "in" to the Air Force. You will soon discover parts of the Air Force that you never knew existed. You will be glad you did and so will I.