JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO- RANDOLPH, Texas --
(This is the second in a four-part series highlighting Airmen’s Week and the Military Training Instructors selected to be facilitators of a curriculum striving to inspire professionalism and excellence in the Air Force’s newest Airmen. Tech. Sgt. Roque Martinez is currently assigned to the 326th Training Squadron as a Military Training Instructor facilitator.)
After the completion of Basic Military Training, but before Airmen are shipped off to their various technical training locations lies a relatively new, yet crucial program geared toward the betterment of the Air Force: Airmen’s Week. Airmen’s week is a 31-hour values-based course with a mission to “develop professional, resilient Airmen, inspire by our heritage, committed to the Air Force Core Values and motivated to deliver Airpower for America.”
As the program nears its second anniversary, the Airmen’s Week team reflects on the change they have witnessed and the future they are striving for.
What has being selected to join the Airmen’s Week team been like for you?
Truthfully, this Airmen's Week experience has been a journey that I am glad I was a part of. Prior to opening our doors for this unique Air Force mission, a hand-selected crew of committed professionals took on a tremendous self-help project to renovate 20 dormitories to welcome our newest Airmen. That journey brought us together as a family and enabled us to appreciate the scope of the mission we were about to take on. Since March 2015, I have learned a lot about the importance of affective teaching. The experience of having Airmen appreciate concepts versus merely understanding, anecdotally, produces Airmen that I would trust my kid in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps to be around. When I retire from this great Air Force, I will be proud to say that I was a part of Air Force history!
How do you think Airmen’s Week benefits the future Air Force?
The mission itself is a powerful benefit for the Department of Defense as a whole. The mission of the 326th Training Squadron states, "Develop professional and resilient Airmen, inspired by our heritage, committed to the Core Values, and motivated to deliver airpower for the United States of America." How powerful is that? The Air Force benefits because being professional and resilient is needed not just as an Airman but as a human being. These Airmen are given a deeper appreciation of legendary Air Force heroes and they are finding a deeper meaning to the Core ValuesAirmen now acknowledge what it means to them. I was not motivated to be great for the Air Force early on, but these young Airmen are being given the bigger picture of what we do as a foundation for their careers.
What is the most challenging part of your job? The most rewarding?
The most challenging part of my job is watching these great Airmen depart and having to reset every Monday. However, that is the most rewarding part as well! If I could effectively reach them in a short five days, the rewarding part is knowing I have the opportunity to reach a bigger number of operational Airmen.
Do you wish you were able to attend Airman's Week as a young Airman? Why?
Absolutely! Let's go back to the mission...I was not a professional and resilient Airmen when I departed Basic Military Training. I could comprehend most tasks that were given to me early in my career, but I did not appreciate the vision or mission statement of my unit. Airmen's Week stresses the importance of unit history and priorities. I was not inspired by our heritage early in my career. As a matter a fact, I had no clue what the identity of the United States Air Force was until I studied to make staff sergeant. Now that I am an instructor, Airmen like Tech. Sgt. John Chapman keep me going when I need inspiration in my life. I understood the Air Force’s Core Values, but I never tied it together with my personal life, before I started teaching this curriculum. These young Airmen are getting an honest perspective of the Core Values applied in life by outstanding professionals telling their stories. If I had gone through a program designed like this, I believe I would have been motivated for a cause greater than myself.
In an interview with Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, commander of Air Education and Training Command, he stated that Airmen's Week is "changing the culture of our Air Force starting with our newest Airmen..." Can you speak to that? What does that mean to you?
Teaching it on this end...yes, this is a huge culture change! We became professionals when we had the opportunity to experience Airman leadership school and appreciated the importance of the big mission to "Fly, Fight, and Win." Now, we have Airmen with the big picture in mind when they hit the ground at technical training school and then again at their first duty station. The old culture of I just want them to “shut up and color” and transactional leadership is slowly on its way out. These Airmen are still trained to obey lawful orders but are now more inclined to make decisions based on loyalty, commitment and trust to the big mission. This is tremendous for me as I know that when it is my time to get back out there and lead these Airmen, we have Airmen that I can look in the eyes and ask, "What do the Core Values mean to you?" I know that the answer I get will be an honest one based on concepts internalized at Airmen's Week. It may be a culture shock but in the long run we are producing Warrior Airmen of character.