Take care of our Air Force

  • Published
  • By By Chief Master Sgt. Pamela Derrow
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe command chief
As I prepare to transition from active duty into "civilian" life, I've had the opportunity to reflect on my Air Force career and especially my time here at U.S. Air Forces in Europe. I want to share with you a few of my thoughts.

I firmly believe USAFE is the best command in the Air Force! Why? Because, you're in it. There's no better place to serve than right here in Europe, where we work together to forge the partnerships that ensure America and its Allies are stronger together -- as a combined team. At the same time, our USAFE Airmen are deploying to support contingency operations alongside their sister service Soldiers, Sailors, Marines ... active duty, Guard and Reserve. I'm proud to have served with each and every one of you! It has been truly an honor.

During my time here, I fully embraced USAFE Commander Gen. Roger A. Brady's priorities and focus areas, which have supported both the mission and the people who make it happen. General Brady ensured the needs of our enlisted Airmen and their families underpinned USAFE priorities. One of the command's three priorities is Shape the Future, and one way we do that is by helping to build partnership capacity with our partners and allies. A key part of that effort is enlisted development.

Professional Military Education is what makes us the professional corps we are. We've really stepped up our NCO development efforts with developing nations and our NATO allies, and the results have been very positive. This year, we travelled to Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania to help these nations continue to professionalize their NCO corps. Trips like these are extremely valuable both in terms of gathering information and sharing best practices, and it also helps us to establish rapport with our counterparts. That's what teams do -- they work and play together ... and learn from each other.

In addition, we've established a program to bring enlisted members from Turkey, Romania, Germany and Great Britain to our Kisling NCO Academy. I know we'll continue to increase participation in programs like these. In turn, those airmen will take the professional development lessons back to their units and help take their enlisted corps to the next level.

Another area that's vitally important is our enlisted heritage. We need to document the outstanding work you're doing every day and make sure that those who follow after us can benefit from the knowledge of our experiences. Our enlisted heritage committee has made great strides in this area, and the most visible product they've created is our enlisted heritage Web site at www.usafeenlistedheritage.org. The site is filled with fantastic stories of our enlisted leaders and your fellow Airmen, and it even has a section where you can submit your story. I encourage you to tell your story.

Taking care of Airmen, is another USAFE priority. General Brady and I are committed to ensuring that your quality-of-life needs are met, so you can focus 100 percent on the mission. We are at war! I assure you the command will always ensure Air Force facilities are clean, safe and secure. Your continued leadership is needed to make that happen. Though involvement comes from your command, wing or squadron leadership, your leadership is vital. When needed, step up and take charge of the situation to make sure your fellow Airmen are being taken care of.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy has made Combat Airman Resiliency a priority, and we have a Deployment Transition Center right here at Ramstein. The program is geared to help Airmen who may experience traumatic or stressful experiences while performing their duties. This program, and other programs like marriage enrichment and Airmen ministry centers, helps our Airmen and their families deal with the rigors of deployments and the transition back home. The Airman and Family Readiness Centers offers a host of other programs as well, and collectively these programs are the glue that helps bind our families together.

Also, please never underestimate your value to your family and friends, and your Air Force team. I attended three memorial services this month! If sound risk management planning was used, so many of these tragedies could have been avoided. Think before you act and always have a backup plan, in case the primary plan falls through. And most of all take care of each other -- be a trusted wingman. More than any other organization you'll work for, we're a military family and we must do our part to keep our fellow Airmen safe. I ask each of you to make a commitment to safety and don't be afraid to question something that doesn't look right or seem safe.

Finally, I've had a lot of Airmen ask me what it takes to make chief. My advice is to concentrate on being the best Airman you can be, stay involved in your community, take every education opportunity the Air Force gives you, and do every task to the best of your ability.

Remember: Attitude is key! When I started my Air Force career more than 30 years ago, I never dreamed that I'd one day be the USAFE command chief. But as I hang up my uniform, I know that I leave the Air Force in good hands -- YOUR hands (where America's freedoms are protected).

Take good care of each other, and most of all, take care of our Air Force!