How changing a shirt can change a career

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Reflecting on my 24 years of service, there are some defining points in my career.

One of the most rewarding was my time spent as an additional duty first sergeant.

While I did not ever wear the "diamond," I was treated as and expected to fulfill the duties of the "shirt." Those duties included being the enlisted counsel to the squadron commander, the advisor to the first line supervisor, the enlisted chaplain for family issues and the negotiator for work center scuffles just to name a few.

During this time, I was also introduced to the wing First Sergeant Council, where I was accepted, not because I wore a diamond on my sleeve, but because I had stepped out of my comfort zone to take advantage of a developmental opportunity.

If you are reading this article, I am confident that you have heard our Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy speak of the need for deliberately developing Airmen. I look back on my time as a shirt and realize that while it was exhausting work at times, it was preparing me for the successes I experienced in the future. It offered me an opportunity to expand my knowledge on Air Force programs that I would not have normally seen as a direct supervisor. It also assisted me in team development and building partnerships. It was the most educational endeavor that I have experienced and, at times, the most entertaining.

Are you ready to take it to the next level? Perhaps you are looking for a change of pace and feel a calling to serve at a different level. I can assure you that each day will present new challenges and new successes. There is something that puts a smile on your face when you step out and contribute to getting an Airman back on track. When you see those Airmen turn around and go on to lead productive careers, the late night phone calls and extended hours are quickly eclipsed by the impact you had on the future of our force.

If this pertains to you, consider becoming an Air Force first sergeant. I can guarantee that your investment in the lives of our Airmen will be met with a return of direct and rewarding impact to our United States Air Force Airmen. I have had the chance to attend many retirement ceremonies and changes of command in my time. The one common theme I have witnessed is the recognition of the critical role a first sergeant plays in the success of the organization. It is a role that is not suited for everyone, but for the right person, the opportunities are endless.

For more information about becoming a first sergeant, contact your unit first sergeant. To be accepted for the position, certain guidelines and prerequisites must be met.