Page 2 - Desert Lightning News So. AZ Edition, August 2019
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August 2019 Desert Lightning News
Instructor duty: Times are changing
by Capt.
DAN HOCHHALTER 24th Training Squadron
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. — Thick skin. Selfless perspective. Fearless leadership.
When asked what I wanted my officer trainees to leave Officer Training School with, these three concepts defined my expectations.
However, I have realized over the past year as an OTS instructor that these are the same characteristics I am de- veloping alongside the trainees. I have changed as a commissioned officer, OTS has changed and the Air Force’s empha- sis on instructor duty has changed ... all drastically for the better.
Here’s why you should care.
I am a product of OTS. I was active duty for seven years before seamlessly transitioning into the full-time Air National Guard. When I came through OTS (Academy of Military Science for Guard), our cadre and students were all ANG. Shortly after I graduated, the Air Force made a smart move to integrate active duty, ANG and Reserve officer training. A few years later, and with yet another logical move, the Air Force also decided to merge line and non-line
training courses. The result? A single OTS, consisting of line and non-line trainees from active duty, ANG and Reserve, whose 300-plus class sizes pro- duce the most dynamically trained of- ficers the Air Force has ever generated.
As trainees come and nine weeks later, new officers go, who stands as the immovable guardian of the standard? The instructor.
Formerly known as flight command- ers, the frontline flight instructors are the hands that mold the clay. Day in and, many times, night out, these trusted and empowered keepers of the commission teach, evaluate, lead and mentor trainees to earn a commission in the military. The days are full, vocal cords are strained and their own lead- ership stretched, but the instructor is the Air Force’s trusted judge regarding whether or not a trainee has what it takes to be a commissioned officer.
So what’s in it for the officer who is diligently working within their Air Force specialty, checking the boxes of promotion and enjoying the comfort of predictability?
For those officers I ask — in what other assignment will a company grade officer have more opportunity to influ- ence, network and grow professionally? The sheer number of career fields in-
structors come into contact with at OTS is unparalleled, both with fellow CGO instructors and trainees alike.
Additionally, the professional rela- tionships cultivated, and leadership sponged from visiting officials, at the “mother ship of officer PME” benefits any that call Maxwell Air Force Base home at any point in their career. There is also an increase in stature as an of- ficer, as one having to constantly set the example of a commissioned leader in the military.
Nevertheless, I understand the hesi- tancy of the active duty CGO. Believe me, I was on the “voluntold” end of a permanent change of station order to instructor duty as an enlisted air traffic controller. Many see instructor duty as a career killer. Well, times are changing.
For those who haven’t heard the recent news, instructor and recruiting special duty positions will be added to the Officer Selection Brief and Secre- tary of the Air Force Memorandum of Instruction.
“We need inspirational leaders throughout our Air Force, and this be- gins with recruiting and instructing our Airmen,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.
Besides promotion boards valuing these leadership experiences, other
incentives will include deployment ex- emptions, two-year assignments (where possible), alma mater preference for Reserve Officer Training Corps assign- ments (when possible) and follow-on assignment preferences (as determined by the Airman’s respective career field).
Regardless of these much-improved answers to the question, “What’s in it for me?” I would ask any commis- sioned officer reading this article to ask themselves, “What’s in me that I have to offer?”
I guarantee that not only will a tour as an instructor benefit your career, but it will provide you with the intangibles that mold your character and leader- ship experiences beyond anything your specific specialty could ever provide you.
Times are changing. Take a look at yourself as an officer and reflect on whether or not you’re going to be one to change the times, or simply let time make the changes.
Editor’s note: To learn more about instructor and recruiting officer spe- cial duty assignments, visit https:// Article/1811802/air-force-announces- selection-process-for-officer-instructor- and-recruiting-spe/.
Separated, but not alone
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Editor’s note: This commentary was first published July 27, 2015.
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho — I woke up to the sun peeping through my window, as dawn broke over the mountains. I got up and went straight to the kitchen to make the family breakfast, yet all I could think about was, “How am I going to manage taking care of my children, dogs and work life while my husband is gone?” Knowing I’d have twice as much to do at home while balancing my military work, made my heart sink a bit.
Growing up as a military child, I knew separation could hit at any time and be extremely hard. Looking back, I now know how alone my mother felt whenever my father deployed or went TDY. It seems like an eternity waiting for your loved one to return home so you aren’t carrying all the weight on your shoulders.
There are dozens of base agencies to make separations easier, but I hadn’t realized it yet.
After just three days of being without my spouse, I felt like the world was crashing down on me. I felt like a first-time mother wondering if I was doing anything right and feeling completely overwhelmed. My office began to notice a change in my attitude and how quickly I became agitated by insignificant events.
A co-worker and I began meeting once a week to discuss everything that was on our minds. Although it was nice to vent and get some relief, it only went so far with reducing the stress.
Unfortunately, because of work schedules, it was difficult to Skype with my husband for more than an hour or so a day.
One day when I was picking up my children, a staff member at the child develop- ment center stopped me and asked, “Is there anything going on in your household?” I explained that my husband was TDY, and I’d been dealing with a lot of stress. She told me my son wasn’t acting like himself either. I had been so consumed
with my own problems, I hadn’t noticed how my family was doing.
The caregiver said, “Your son is starting to become antisocial, he’s not eating
well and is a bully at daycare.”
I felt as if I was failing as a mother. I had to get help, not only for my son but
for myself as well. I had no idea where to start.
The caregiver gave me a pamphlet about dealing with separation and inside
was a card. I called and made an appointment to talk to a counselor.
We discussed my everyday routine. I felt comforted when I could see I wasn’t
failing as a mother.
The counselor explained that regardless of a child’s age, the child can tell
when a family member is gone or stressed. Although you may think it won’t rub off on them, it does.
As we continued our conversation he recommended some exercises with my children.
One exercise was the 1-2-3 method, also known as the “count” to stop behavior. If your child is having a tantrum or isn’t listening, this exercise helps your child to learn, think and take responsibility for his actions. Doing this sends the mes- sage that your authority is not negotiable before you act with a consequence. This consequence doesn’t necessarily have to be a big thing. It can simply be redirecting your child toward doing something else, like assisting you with put- ting items away or reading a book with them.
He explained that the more I get involved with my children, the better. I should replace that sense of separation with love and care for my children, helping to distract that feeling of loneliness in them and me.
After discussing how I could help my children, the counselor asked, “How are you handling all this?”
I said I had struggled with trying to keep everything the same as when my husband was at home. I felt overwhelmed and stressed and so did my children. He explained no matter how much I wanted things to be the same, they weren’t. All I could do was make the best of each situation. Not only that, I should find a
hobby that would help to diminish the stress.
I took what the counselor said to heart. My son is no longer being antisocial;
he’s eating more and being nicer to other kids. I still have to deal with his “ter- rible-2” moments, with and my 1-year-old daughter sometimes joining him, but for the most part, they’re back to normal.
Even when you feel there’s nowhere to turn for help, there’s always someone who cares and can guide you in the right direction. There are other resources on base to support you in times of need, such as the Airman and Family Readiness Center, key spouse groups, first shirts and mental health.
Whether it’s a friend, family member, counselor or even just writing a journal, there are always avenues for help.
You’re not alone.

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