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Chief's View: Own Your Career; Own Your Path

Chief Master Sgt. Ericka Kelly, command chief master sergeant, Air Force Reserve Command

Chief Master Sgt. Ericka Kelly, command chief master sergeant, Air Force Reserve Command

Citizen Airman/June 2016 -- I believe it is absolutely critical for you to know what I value as your chief and what we are doing at the headquarters to help our Airmen succeed. My job is to provide you the tools, training and support you need to have a successful Air Force career, but to do that, you need to be proactive and own your own path. I want to take this opportunity to highlight my thoughts about career development, diversity in our workforce and taking care of our Airmen.

First, I want us to focus on developing the team. We have a good start, but there is still lots of work to do. My priority is to support each of you in choosing the career path that is right for you. One of the biggest complaints I have already heard from the field is about having to relocate to pursue development opportunities. I am here to tell you that it’s about looking at your life and knowing what the values and priorities are for you and your family.

One of my goals as chief is to ensure I am grooming the next generation of enlisted leaders. To do that, we not only need to develop our troops but also to empower them to manage their own career. We are working on developing educational and placement opportunities for our enlisted force as well as opportunities for our Airmen to gain experience as first-shirts, career advisors and wing or numbered air force chiefs. In many cases, these opportunities require members to relocate, but they are available to anyone willing to make the trade-offs required. Some of you have career and family obligations that make it challenging to relocate, and if these types of jobs aren’t your goal, that’s OK. But understand that to be competitive for these opportunities you have to start managing your career early.

One of the best things about our force is its heritage and culture. They make our force strong, and we must continue to honor those things as we embrace diversity in our force. Diversity not necessarily in terms of gender, ethnicity and religious backgrounds, although those are important, but rather diversity in terms of education, background and experiences that can add to our culture and heritage. As a diverse force, we are able to see problems from new vantage points and come up with more creative solutions to the challenges we face. I encourage you to bring the education and experience you have from your civilian career to the Air Force Reserve. This is what makes our force strong and innovative. Use this diversity to start honest and open discussions, which I believe we need to create a strong enlisted force.

My final priority is creating a supportive environment that fosters resilient and capable Airmen who have the tools and guidance necessary to take care of their own families and careers. To accomplish this, we need to consider the safety and well-being of our Airmen. I am excited about the implementation of the Green Dot program, which is designed to foster a healthy environment free from domestic violence, sexual assault and self-defeating behavior. I will also be highlighting the work of the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence as it continues to help create an environment where our men and women can develop the skills they need to be strong and resilient leaders and mentors. You are a valued part of our team, and I believe we can make great strides in making our Air Force Reserve a supportive and safe environment for all our Airmen.

I will be sharing more about my vision over the next few months, but I wanted to get us started on the same page. I am going to be proactive in getting things done, but I need your help. Make sure you are providing honest and constructive feedback about what is working and what isn’t. Together we will make it possible for you to chart your own path.