Outgoing MOS commander shares lessons learned

  • Published
  • By Maj. Brian Daniels
  • 22nd Maintenance Operations Squadron commander
As my two years as a commander here come to a close and I head for different adventures, I want to leave behind some insights meant mainly for younger Airmen but applicable to any military professional.

The words I just used, military professional, are the basis for my message. All of us have chosen the honor of joining this great Air Force. We have also all made it through the initial training and follow-on training that gives us the tools to technically perform our jobs. But what's next? I have found the following thoughts to be true throughout my career.

The Air Force isn't high school. When you volunteer and are accepted into the military, you are agreeing to act as an adult; and the petty cliquish behavior of the past must be replaced with maturity, even at age 18.

Cut the umbilical cord loose from mommy and daddy. I am in no way saying that you should not have a relationship with your parents, but upon your graduation from basic military training or commissioning, they no longer run or are responsible for your life. The best thing that happened early in my career was when my wife and I were sent 3,000 miles away from our hometown and through necessity became self reliant.

Finally, honor your commitment. I have seen so many young Airmen decide early on the Air Force is just not right for them, and they must get out at all costs. This is going back to my first point of maturing from your experiences - whether good or bad. Everyone has heard the statement, "The grass is always greener ..." I promise you the grass isn't always greener, and in many instances, the world outside the Air Force can be a much darker place. The Airmen who have separated tell me that they wish they hadn't. With that, the military is not for everyone, and those who decide to separate after their initial commitment have hopefully served with honor and are due the respect of peers and leaders.

I have probably given you some things to think about, and it may have hit some reading this right between the eyes. Don't worry; I am not going to leave you hanging without some positive lessons and recommendations.

I have also learned throughout the years to develop your spiritual health. Your relationship with God will eventually form as the basis of your relationships with friends, families, coworkers and your spouse.

Be a leader, not a follower. I am not just talking about at work, but also about in your daily life. The follower is scared to stand up in the face of immoral and illegal decisions choosing to follow the crowd even if it leads them off of the end of a cliff. The leader will stand, sometimes alone, for what they know is right, becoming a shining example for those who are too scared to do anything but follow.

Finally, follow the golden rule. Treat your peers and coworkers the way you want to be treated. If you want to be respected in the dorms, at the club and at work, you must show the proper respect to the authority of those assigned over you and those who work around you. Gossip is one of the quickest ways to ruin a unit. It is disrespectful, and it destroys your credibility with peers and supervisors.

Always keep hold of your integrity, even when others around you are destroying theirs. Everyone around you needs to be confident that "your yes means yes" and "your no means no." Once your integrity has been compromised, it is very hard to get trust back. Believe me, the Air Force is a small community, so those people you never thought you would see, or ever want to see, again may very well cross your path in the future.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is, it is an honor to serve in the greatest Air Force in the greatest country in the world. You owe it to the Air Force and to the people around you to meet your commitments and to serve with as much honor and professionalism as you can -- whether you are in for one term or you retire at 30 years.

No one person has all of the answers, but there are many people who can serve as mentors or who have proven through their words and deeds that they deserve your respect. Seek them out, and take their lessons to heart. I have fully enjoyed my last two years here, and to those I am leaving behind, may God bless you all.