Each of you must be a mentor

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Mickel Coffin
  • 190th Maintenance Operations Flight
How often have you heard, or said, "I am mentor for so-and-so, but I've never met him?" How many of us hear mentor and tune out? Unfortunately, this is too common.

There seems to be two schools of thought on mentorship. Either, it's incredibly important, and I want to do all I can to promote it; or, I don't have time for menial stuff, I'm busy enough justkeeping track of myself. Most people fall into the second category. I wonder if possibly these people just don't understand mentorship, and that it's a critical asset to today's military.

One definition of a mentor is: an experience and trusted advisor and teacher. A military description is: the voluntary, developmental relationship that exists between a person of greater experience and a person of lesser experience that is characterized by mutual trust and respect.

The Air Force refers to mentorship as the Wingman concept: Airman taking care of other fellow Airman.

Mentorship is part of the pathway to that trust, respect and support, in that each junior Airman has a senior Airman to lead the way, smooth the path, introduce junior to the ins and outs of life in the Air Force. Mentorship is one way to assure each member of the Air Force is aware of and accepts his or her part in the military as a whole.

This is important to the success of any workplace, to the military and the protection of the United States - it is critical. All personnel must know and understand how they fit into their unit so that each unit can operate at its fullest potential.

The 190th's primary mission is aerial refueling. If we fall short of just one of our missions, the fighter unit will also fail, the ground unit counting on the fighters will go unprotected, and so on. Steps must be taken to avoid this disaster.

Step one is to assure that each member of the unit is working to the best of his or her ability. Step two is to assure that each member is able to do that mentorship. Mentoring requires genuine two-way communication between the mentor and his or her charge on a continuing basis. This results in trust and respect that any Airman will gain and retain throughout his or her career.

Mentoring shouldn't be looked upon as additional tasking. It's a privilege and an honor
to be asked to mentor a new member.

In actuality, we are too busy "taking care of number one," and don't take the time to look at the benefits of mentoring. In the field, we all benefit. Both sides of a mentorship can concentrate on the mission at-hand and know that the other members in the unit have had an added benefit of a mentor; thus, each and every unit member is that much safer. Possibly, if we thought of mentoring in this way, it would be a more popular program.

Mentoring is critical to the success of a military. With all of us working toward the common goal of mentoring every new member to our unit, it's really a doable task, and one that's sure to pay great dividends now and in the future.