Commitment to Air Force Standards

  • Published
  • By SMSgt. T. Todd Mastin
  • 388th CMS Propulsion Flight Chief
What is commitment and how does it relate to Air Force standards? Throughout my 22 years of service the word "commitment" has been the center of many discussions. Early in my career, I failed to realize the true meaning of commitment and how important its relationship was to Air Force standards. During this time I nearly lost my career before it really got started. I was lucky because when I made mistakes, my supervisors and mentors took the time to remind me of why I enlisted. I am extremely grateful to the individuals who took time from their professional and personal lives to ensure l learned from my mistakes and always continued to improve as an airman and a person.

As a young person growing up in rural Kentucky, I dreamed of playing basketball for the University of Kentucky, not about serving my country! However, my college time was cut short due to my lack of attention and commitment; so I moved into the civilian work force. I moved from job-to-job before settling as an electrician's apprentice. However; I found the commitment I desired was not there; so I paused for a minute and thought about my future and if the military could be the answer. I spent a lot of time with the local Air Force Recruiter and listened to the numerous opportunities the Air Force had to offer. But the one conversation the recruiter and I had that stuck in my mind was about commitment! He asked if I was ready to commit to a way of life that would change and challenge me in ways I could not image as a civilian. After much deliberation, I decided to accept the challenge and enlist in the United States Air Force.

As I look back over my career, I can think of several occasions when I forgot about the phrase "commitment to Air Force Standards" and only thought of myself. However; my supervisors and mentors were always there redirecting and reminding me of why I was really here, and that is, to serve in the United States Air Force and protect the American way of life, "Freedom".

Today as I inch closer to retirement, I often reflect on how the Air Force provided direction in my life and for that I will forever be grateful. The Air Force standards are now a way of life and I often share my stories of mistakes with other Airmen in hope that others will not follow the same broken path I often found myself on. To the many supervisors and especially the mentors who continually reminded me of just what the commitments to Air Force Standards really were, I say thanks! Thanks for believing in me and pushing me to fulfill my potential while never compromising the standards.

To the young airmen and NCOs, I say remember why you enlisted and what it means to serve in the world's greatest Air Force. Never forget what "commitment to Air Force Standards" means and always stand tall and wear our uniform with pride.

I close with a reminder to remember, one of the only things in life that is constant is change. Sometimes this is really hard for us old guys, so please be flexible. I charge you to adjust to the following: new PT standards, uniform changes, downsizing, base closures and my favorite, walking and talking on a cell phone, only to name a few. Use each obstacle as a challenge and not as a roadblock! Adjust and lead from the front and you will find that others will follow in your footsteps!