To the disrespectful teacher in California

Dear sir,

Congratulations on your recent internet fame that you’ve inherited! I am one of the many members of the United States Armed Forces that you classified as a “dumb shit”. I’d like to share with you my life experiences, and why I decided to join the military a year after high school.

In high school, I was a part of the Junior Reserved Officer Training Corps (JROTC), probably the type of students that you favor in belittling in your classroom. At first, I didn’t want to join JROTC, but my mother convinced me to join anyway. Our compromise was that I would only have to do it for one semester, and I could choose to leave if this wasn’t for me. Turns out, I found my place in the world and decided to remain in JROTC for the rest of my high school career. I was so focused and dedicated to this class or club, that I ended up becoming the cadet commander of my unit. All of the valuable lessons I’ve learned, that I still reflect on to this day, were learned in this class as a leader… Can you believe, that me, a 16-something year old was commanding a unit of over 100+? Fascinating, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, I didn’t go to college right after high school despite taking classes that could’ve transferred over as college credits. Instead, as I’ve already mentioned, I joined the United States Air Force a year after graduating. To be honest with you, joining the Air Force, to me, is not a bad gig at all. Since I did 4-years of JROTC, I was already promoted to E-3 since joining the military (usually, people can receive this rank after graduating basic training/boot camp if they enlisted for 6-years), and because I was given the Congressman Herbert Advanced placement award, or CHAPA letter, I was able to chose up to 5 jobs in the military that I wanted to do. 10+ years later, I am still a medic and have not regretted my decision.

The military also treats me very well for serving them. I receive a steady paycheck, minus the occasional government shut-downs; however, there are many resources that are available to me that can help me out in times of need. I enjoy free education in the career field of my choosing. I’m sure technical training or trade school is probably not up to your standards, but if times get tough and there is an event where I have to leave the military, I still have my certifications to land me a decent job out on the economy. Also, I receive $4,500 per fiscal year for tuition assistance on top of the Post 9/11 GI Bill that I paid into. My family also benefits from me being in the military, in that their health insurance is free. They don’t have to worry about not being able to go to the doctors because coverage is too expensive. They also have a great community support system for those times that I have to leave for deployments or other necessary mission tasking.

Anyway, enough about me, let me also talk about some of the great officers I’ve met and have served under. I think you referred them as “not high level thinkers”. When I was deployed, my flight surgeon only had 6-months under his belt before he deployed. Before then, he had his own Family Health Clinic, but gave it to his colleague so he can join the military and support our war-fighters. My last squadron commander first enlisted into the Air Force, but was later picked up for Physician’s Assistance school. My last flight commander was also prior enlisted in the Army, but separated from the service to pursue her Nursing degree. She returned as a Nurse Practitioner, and now she is on the east coast for her doctorates. In addition to these three officers who are very important to me, there are may other officers in the healthcare field that have written and published articles for the medical community, proven theories, and most importantly, saved countless lives. And to make my last statement bolder, they didn’t just save our brother and sisters in arms, they have also gone on humanitarian missions to third-world countries and saved lives out there, too.

Sir, I know that, in this day and age, being in the military and having a sense of pride in one’s country is a scarce thing to come by; however, it is us that gave you the right to exercise the First Amendment of our Constitution – Freedom of Speech. I’m not sure if you know this, but being in the military, you don’t get to exercise this right, and you expected to “obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me”. Of course, we have the authority to disobey orders that we deem to be immoral, thus enforcing us to become those “high level thinkers” you think we are not. Either way, you are welcome for that right and the fact that myself, my husband, and my brothers & sisters in arms fight for that right to remain in this place.

Before I end this open letter to you, I’d like to leave you a quote from Gen George S. Patton, a famous General from WWII. He is currently buried in a military cemetery in Luxembourg, maybe you ought to visit his tombstone to pay some sort of respect to those that paved the way for your freedom you enjoy to this day.

Better to fight for something than live for nothing.

//Signed//

A Staff Sergeant in the US Air Force

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That one TSgt at Nellis AFB

ICYMI, a TSgt stationed at Nellis AFB decided to post a public rant on FaceBook Live about her disrespectful “black female” subordinates. If you haven’t gotten the chance to see this video, you can watch it here.

While I chose to create a post about this incident, I do not intend for my post to perpetuate her internet fame. Rather, I’d like to use this as some sort of teaching tool since I could think of no better way to teach my Airmen about proper internet etiquette. And, yes, I am upset that there are members of the same Air Force that I currently serve in, who are higher ranking than me, and who do not show the same level of “good order and discipline”. However, this fact does not mean that should follow their lead and abandon the Air Force core values that are ingrained in me. At the end of the day, I still have Airmen that are under my supervision, who look to my for guidance and an example of what they ought to become in the future as leaders.

With that being said, lets go over the important lessons this video has to offer all of us.

#1 – NEVER air out your dirty laundry

Quite an obvious thing to do, but I’ve realized that common sense is not so common now-a-days. A LOT of my friends air out their dirty laundry all the time on their FaceBooks, and that’s okay, but this isn’t something you’d typically see me doing. Despite my outward personality, I am a fairly private person; I don’t like to publicly state my problems on Facebook unless I have a truly valid reason. I feel like it has to do with a level of maturity, but I’m also not saying that my friends who are okay with doing this, are immature. To me, it just seems better to figure things on your own, or fight your battles quietly instead of having everyone in your business.

#2 – Race has nothing to do with anything

I absolutely hate how she calls out a particular group of people in this rant. My husband and I both agree that, if she decided to leave out a particular race and a particular group of people, maybe her rant would’ve been taken in a whole different manner. Instead, she will be forever known as “that racist TSgt”. It truly doesn’t matter if is was or wasn’t before she made the decision to make this video. This is what she will be known for, and quite frankly, race has nothing to do with the way that people treat their higher ups. In ways, I felt personally offended by this video, not because I belonged to the targeted group (because I’m not a black female), but because I’ve had a variety of Airmen under my supervision from different races. Not once have I encountered the same problems that she did. Yes, I can relate to the derogatory “yes ma’am” that she mentions, but, as an NCO, I nipped that in the bun. I actually took the time to pull my Airmen aside and counseled them, and ascertained whether or not they meant it in a disrespectful manner. And if they were being disrespectful to me, I counseled them because I am the NCO and I am the leader… which leads me to #3.

#3 – She is the leader, and they are the followers

As an NCO, she has the authority to counsel and administer administrative punishments (MFRs, LOCs, LOAs, LORs…. basically, paperwork) to her followers that are not abiding to the standards of the Air Force/military or the ones she set out for them. Soooooo, maybe the problem isn’t with her Airmen; maybe the problem lies within the leader, which is her. One of the main points that I make with my Airmen when I conduct their initial feedbacks is that we are all professionals in the profession of arms. We are all adults, and we should conduct ourselves in that manner. I don’t care if they have “beef” with someone else at work because at the end of the day, the mission comes first, and sometimes we have to work alongside people we don’t necessarily get along with or like. Just because they work with someone they don’t like, doesn’t mean that they have to hang out with them after work. I tell them to leave their personal problems at the clinic doors when they report for duty. Also, our job as NCOs is to not be “best friends” with our troops. Yes, its a HUGE bonus when you can be on a relate-able level with your Airmen, but it won’t be like that in every instance. Sometimes we have to be that asshole and correct them when they’re wrong. And on the flip-side to that, if you counsel your Airmen correctly and fairly, yeah they’re going to be upset/mad/pissed off at you, but the intention is to correct them and hope that they understand where they went wrong.

#4 – “I’m trying my best to hold my professionalism with them”

Everyone who has watched this agrees that she obviously didn’t hold any amount of professionalism once she decided to made this video. This goes with #1 and #3 in this post. I’ll admit, there have been plenty of times that I felt my professionalism kind of slip because I couldn’t handle a situation, but my thought process is to consult with someone of higher ranking than me that I could trust. Mentors make all the difference in a leadership world… And while I mention this fact, it further irritates me that she even thought to do this when leaders are constantly told to bounce ideas off of each other. Which is the same truth for problems they encounter in the leadership role.

#5 – R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what that means to… your Airmen 

My Airmen and I have had a few informal mentorship moments about “respect” after they saw this video. This also bounces off of #3, when I mentioned administering punishment fairly. My Airmen know that I hate giving out paperwork, but they also know that if I have to, there’s a very good reason why; I’m transparent with them. My Airmen also know that if they have a problem, they can come talk to me… within reason, and its not about something that makes me a mandatory reporter. Respect for a leader begins with trusting them, and you can bet that those under her have no respect for her whatsoever; beit before OR AFTER this video. If she has that many problems with her Airmen not “showing her respect”, or the proper respect she feels so entitled to, maybe it is because they don’t trust her at all… Respect is not an entitlement at all, its definitely earned.

#6 – Preventing a fight club

If she feels there is THAT much hostility in her workplace, its seems like she should probably call on some type of mediation with her Airmen. As I write this post, I don’t claim to be a perfect NCO myself, because I know that I am definitely not. Although I try to strive for perfection, I know that there are areas that really need some improvement when it comes to leading people. The last clinic I ran at my last base was probably my most challenging, but has given me a lot of valuable lessons, to include calling for some sort of mediation – something’s gotta give at one point, and it shouldn’t be your Airmen’s morale or well-being. Just because I am a leader doesn’t mean that I can handle every situation that comes my way, and I do need some assistance from my supervisor or supervisor’s supervisor.

#7 – Be careful of what FaceBook groups you join

This fact isn’t publicly highlighted in this video, but the TSgt decided to post this video in a group called “Nellis burn book”. There have been some claims circulating that she is one of the group’s monitors, which gives me knots in my stomach. If you’re unsure of the reference, I’d like to think that the phrase “burn book” was inspired from Tina Fey’s movie “Mean Girls”; and if that’s the case, why is this even a thing? This definitely calls out straight-up unprofessionalism if you joined a group called Nellis Burn Book. Even though I’m not part of this group, it sounds like the type of group where immature people go to air out or talk crap about people on-base. Everyone has their own opinions and beliefs about people, but sometimes its best just to keep it to yourself because you never know who it’ll affect.

 

That’s all I have to say about this event, and I hope that she does not embody what you now think about members of the military. On her behalf, I truly apologize to those that were affected, because they don’t deserve the level of treatment she may bestow upon them. What were your thoughts when you saw this rant?