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My ALS experience: all about the people

Members of Airman Leadership School, class 15-E, pose with members of base leadership after an ALS graduation, June 15, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The 12 students spent five weeks learning Air Force supervisory basics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Robert J. Volio /Released)

Members of Airman Leadership School, class 15-E, pose with members of base leadership after an ALS graduation, June 15, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The 12 students spent five weeks learning Air Force supervisory basics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Robert J. Volio /Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- In a continually changing society, few organizations maintain as firm a grip on their history and traditions as the United States military.

Airman Leadership School, the first chapter in an Airman's Professional Military Education, is one such tradition. One in which I recently had the opportunity to experience first-hand.

Making the same pilgrimage all senior airmen and staff sergeants must make at some point in their careers, I entered ALS with a sense of apprehension and excitement. I felt apprehension because despite my time in the Air Force, I had no idea of what to expect and was excited to follow all those who have come before, including my father.

As the course commenced and I learned the basics of Air Force supervision, I was surprised by what inspired me the most. It wasn't the meticulously crafted curriculum, or the methodical instruction. It was my fellow classmates.

My Air Force brothers and sisters not only inspired me to be a better Airman but legitimately renewed my confidence in the entire Air Force. The caliber of people they proved to be gave me hope that no matter what direction the Air Force is pulled, it will remain in good hands.

Although it's possible I was simply fortunate to be among an abnormally capable group of people, I want to believe it was an accurate depiction of the majority of Airmen.

This is especially evident when considering the variety of career fields represented. From a Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning mechanic, an intelligence analyst, a public health technician, and security forces patrolmen - all provided an unadulterated sample of Air Force quality and diversity.

Throughout the course, my classmates challenged status quos and adamantly hoped to improve the lives of their future subordinates. In spite of nearly all having had negative experiences with past supervisors, each one aimed to make things better. This genuine interest in the welfare of subordinates over all else, made me proud to be part of an organization with the foresight to empower such individuals with supervisory responsibilities.

As graduation came and awards were given, I realized I had already received the most valuable award - a renewed faith in the Air Force. I may not always have faith in the system or the process, but I have faith in the people. The same people who I spent the last five weeks of my life with, who I consider my brothers and sisters, and who I know will not only better the lives of their subordinates -- but will better the entire Air Force.