How do we ensure we can provide the very best?

  • Published
  • By Richard Snelling
  • 97th Maintenance Directorate
When you go to your primary health care provider do you have an expectation you will receive the very best, up-to-date care available? When you fly on the latest and greatest passenger planes, do you expect safe quality transportation? While shopping at your local grocery store, are you confident the food you buy is safe for you and your family? Of course, we expect the best available health care and the safest transportation in the world. These two examples are near and dear to me. My wife, Pat is a registered nurse and I'm an aircraft mechanic. Pat teaches nursing at Southwest Technology Center and although it's been a few years since I've turned a wrench on an aircraft, I still consider myself an aircraft mechanic.

So, how do we provide the very best up to date services, not limited to only the vocations I mentioned above? The answer is continuing education. I for one was happy to get out of formal school and get on with my career. I was a quick study (in my opinion) and I wanted to be on the flight line, not in a classroom. However, I soon found out the aircraft I was working on were continually being updated with new technologies. Eventually these aircraft were also being replaced with more advanced models. I came to realize my training was only as good as the engineering and technologies of the time. To meet updated quality and safety standards I had to embrace continuing education.

The only way we can continue to meet mission requirements is to advance in knowledge and continue to grow our people and their skills; this is job one. Our employer, the United States Air Force, is all about ensuring our success. As technology in jobs changes, updates need to be made in our career paths. This is accomplished through Air Force Instructions, On-The-Job training, local training, formal schools and reading professional materials. A whole myriad of opportunities exist for civilian employees as well. Depending on your position, you could qualify for Squadron Officers School or Air Command and Staff College. There is even an online Masters Program through USAF Air University you can complete at home on your own time. And the Civilian Personnel Office has training opportunities through Southwest Technology Center for many different computer applications. Everything from basic Microsoft Word classes to Advanced Excel lessons, it's all there for you. Transfers of updated job skills are sometimes transparent and accomplished by working with others. Updating your skills is a never ending task.

Each of us has the personal responsibility to seek off-duty education. This opportunity helps in our job sets as well as ensuring well-rounded citizens. The Air Force provides counseling for the military, civilians and dependents. They will also assist with financial counseling, letting you know what's available through the government and different organizations. The new GI Bill education assistance is also available and in some instances, can be transferred to family members.

Continuing education is as close as your computer. To ensure we provide the very best up-to-date services you must do your part. Visit your local Education Office, college or technology center today. Only then can we continue "Forging Combat Mobility Forces...Deploying Airman Warriors!"