Taking it to next level

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Mary Teeter
  • 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander
As we move toward another busy summer season filled with moves, mission changes and family activities, I believe it's important that we prepare ourselves.

There are three areas - safety, military traditions and self-care - in which improvements will help us to take our personal performance to the next level.

First, as we approach the Memorial Day weekend and the kickoff of 101 Critical Days of Summer, it is important that we renew our personal commitment to safety. There are many things that increase the risks we face every day, such as distracted driving, use and abuse of alcohol, lake activities such as swimming, boating or fishing, and long drives for family vacations, to name a few. Many Airmen have seen the "Mythbusters" clip which showed that talking on a cell phone while driving is potentially more dangerous than drinking and driving. And if we look around while we're driving in the community, it is clear that many drivers on the road are otherwise occupied with checking their phones, talking on their phones or even texting.

I challenge each of you to think of one thing that you will do this spring and summer season to increase your personal safety and that of your family.

Second, as we continue to face changes in our Air Force and mission, such as extended force shaping programs and changes in the Central Command area of responsibility, it is up to each of us to find ways to ensure that our mission carries on seamlessly. One of the most effective ways I have witnessed for boosting mission performance is to focus on military traditions.

Focusing on military traditions binds us together as members of the profession of arms. It also helps us to get to know one another better, with military traditions as the common thread that helps us initiate more in-depth conversations. Military traditions such as hosting proper retirements and presenting military decorations help to formally recognize the service and sacrifice of our teammates. This also shows others they will be recognized for their contributions as well. With continuous deployments and many commitments on duty, especially as we draw down resources, we may have allowed ourselves to forego military traditions in favor of day-to-day activities. However, it is important that we get back to military traditions, for the esprit de corps gained in honoring military traditions is exactly what we need to face the tough challenges ahead.

I challenge each of you to find one way this spring and summer to help us bring back military traditions, such as participate in a retirement or a decoration ceremony, or maybe even volunteer to help set up a combat dining out.

Finally, we can't forget to care for ourselves. I have a saying that I use with aircraft maintainers who are phenomenal at maintaining, launching and recovering our aircraft. It is, "No one takes care of you better than you." What I mean by this is that YOU are the only one who knows what you need to function more effectively. As a commander, I have hundreds of resources at my fingertips to help our maintainers with anything they need. But I can't engage if I don't know what resource to energize. Help for an Airman starts with the Airman letting someone know they have a need, whether professional, mental, physical, social, spiritual or otherwise.

The great thing about our Air Force is that it spends a tremendous amount of resources on programs, facilities and people who exist only to help us do our jobs. But we can't take advantage of any of those resources if we do not engage them, or tell someone we need assistance.

I challenge each of you to think of one thing that could improve your personal life, and to let someone know. I guarantee there is a resource available to you that can help.

These are only three areas we can all improve in order to increase our overall quality of life. I am sure there are many more. However, I truly believe that if we only do one thing to improve in each of these areas, we will look back and realize how much we have gained and want to do more.

Wishing each of you a truly great, safe summer, and looking forward to seeing how you have taken your personal performance to the next level!