First sergeants serve for all Airmen
By Senior Airman Franklin R. Ramos, 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 11, 2014
ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. - -- Being on call 24/7, always on the go, working late, receiving calls in the middle of the night and missing out on important family time are sacrifices first sergeants make to aid others.
"Being a first sergeant is about putting yourself last and the Airmen first... basically aspiring to personify servant leadership," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jason Buckley, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron first sergeant. "My favorite thing about being a first sergeant is being able to help people, to have a positive impact on their lives and the lives of their families."
First sergeants act as a link between commanders, enlisted personnel and support agencies. They advise on career progression, personnel programs, financial matters and family needs. They also serve as the commander's eyes and ears and help them with administrative decisions.
"I am the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron commander's key advisor and advocate on all morale, health and welfare for 267 active duty, reserve and civilian personnel," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jason Greco, 97th Civil Engineer Squadron first sergeant. "I set and enforce standards, maintain a quality force, act as a liaison with referral agencies and resolve unit quality of life issues. I also mentor and counsel personnel at all levels throughout the unit."
Some characteristics first sergeants share are leadership, empathy and resilience. These are not characteristics that you learn at the academy, Greco said. These are characteristics that you should have as a senior NCO.
"First and foremost, I think that one needs to have a genuine concern for people and their well-being. Secondly, anyone wanting to become a first sergeant should already be leading in some capacity," Buckley said. "It shouldn't take putting on a diamond to get someone to aspire to lead; a person's actions will far outweigh any rank insignia."
For a first sergeant to be assigned to a squadron, the unit must consist of at least 75 enlisted personnel, although they assist all Airmen and family members.
"We deal with a lot of issues," Greco said. "Some of them are deeply saddening or infuriating, but it's vital that you put that all aside because there is always an Airman who is counting on you for support and guidance."
Senior NCOs who are interested in learning more about becoming a first sergeant should contact their unit first sergeant.
"It's not about the next promotion, a parking space or power," Greco said. "Become a first sergeant because you love to lead Airmen and assist those in need."