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What it means to me to be a first-term Airman

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- (Editor's Note: All members of each First Term Airman's Center class write a commentary entitled, "What it means to be a first-term Airman." The FTAC instructors select the best commentary, and the writer receives the "Gunfighter Pride" award. The following is the most recent selection.)

My definition of being a first-term Airman is the transition from our comfortable civilian lifestyle to the Air Force lifestyle.

First-term Airmen are taught the basics of what the Air Force expects and must build on that foundation to further succeed in their Air Force careers. As civilians, we could slip through the cracks at work or just give the bare minimum to get through each day. We could call in sick if we didn't feel like working, on weekends we could do as we pleased, if life got stressful we could set aside our responsibilities and get "me time."

As first-term Airmen, we are now held to a much higher standard set by the Air Force. We apply the core values to everything we do. We are taught the value of gaining the trust of our wingman and our leaders. It's our responsibility to do our jobs right. We are taught to follow technical orders and not cut corners. When we make mistakes, we are to own up to them. We are taught the importance of obeying rules and regulations. From the start we must be able to prove that we can be trusted to complete our tasks without complications or doubt. That is the integrity of the first-term Airman.

There are definitely great benefits of being a first-term Airman. We are provided the resources to achieve our educational and personal goals, and then we determine how far we want to climb up the ladder of success.

However, our first mission and duty is to the Air Force. We must be willing to work longer hours and weekends, deploy at anytime and take on any challenge - even if it puts a strain on our personal relationships. We must be willing to set aside our own wants and desires to help contribute to the mission. To a first-term Airman, this is service before self.

First-term Airmen are expected to give more than the bare minimum every day. No matter what job we have, we are all working as a team with one mission. First-term Airmen can't stop their education at technical school. We are all expected to complete our upgrade training and build leadership skills. Although we are new to the Air Force, we look to improve our skills to gain higher ranks and more responsibility - nothing is handed to us. Our success lies solely on our motivation and strive.

We are trained to be early to work, to be fit to fight at all times and always maintain a professional appearance and attitude - because even out of uniform, we still represent the Air Force. We live by these standards. When our country is need, we are willing to offer a helping hand. We are expected to volunteer to better our communities. Even on our duty stations, we must be willing to aid in replenishing resources or offer a helping hand. The efficiency of the Air Force depends on each Airman and as first-term Airmen, we must show excellence in all we do.

"Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do," these are the core values of the Air Force and what a first-term Airman represents. Upon entering basic training, we were introduced to these values and standards. Even after arriving at our first duty stations, we're still expected to maintain those standards. It's the foundation of our new lifestyles. First-term Airmen must take pride in what they do. They have chosen to take up the responsibility to uphold the traditions of those who served before us. We are striving to better ourselves at all times so that one day we can be great leaders. It's only the beginning, however, we are ready, willing and able to fly, fight and win.