AFDW Hosts First Sergeant Symposium

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Esther Willett
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
The Air Force District of Washington hosted a symposium for NCO's and SNCO's from around the National Capital Region 4-8 April 2016 at the General Jacob E. Smart Center.

"First sergeants are a unique and critical asset in every Air Force unit,"
said AFDW First Sergeant Chief Master Sgt. Manny Pineiro. "We offer this
symposium so interested candidates can become familiar with the immense
responsibility that accompanies the role. Additionally, this course will
give them a head start if they do choose to apply to become a first sergeant
in the future."

More than 145 participants were nominated by their commanders to attend the
course. Throughout the week, they heard from a number of speakers who spoke
to them
about the personal and technical aspects of being a first sergeant.

Sam E. Parish, eighth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, emphasized
mentoring as a critical capacity of a first sergeant.

"The people who make the Air Force go on a day-to-day basis are the people
you lead. You train, educate, motivate, and you also mentor," Parish said.
"The person you are developing is not afraid to do anything a supervisor
asks them to do. They'll work on it because they know there is a safety net
ready to catch them if they start to slide. Now that is what mentorship is
all about. It's about developing Airmen."

Representatives from base helping agencies, including Mental Health,
Finance, the Area Defense Counsel, and Mortuary Affairs, informed
participants about the resources available to support First Sergeants as
they care for their Airmen.

"It takes a special balance to fill the position and to walk beside others
as they deal with challenges, but to also take care of yourself," said

Participants agreed the seminar provided a good overview of what a First
Sergeant is responsible for on a day-to-day basis.

"I learned a lot about family care plans, family advocacy and different
family support programs," said Master Sgt. Jeremy Zier, secretary of the Air
Force public affairs command information superintendent. "Quite frequently
you hear about the positive or negative things a first sergeant does, but
don't really get to know the full responsibility of what a first sergeant
does. I've learned that first sergeants may not have the answer for
everything, but they know how to get the answers for everything."

The participants also heard from and interacted with a number of panels
including Airmen, Command Chiefs, other First Sergeants, and Squadron

"First sergeants must realize that leadership is a skill that can be
learned," said Maj. Gen. Darryl Burke, Air Force District of Washington
commander. "Don't be afraid to adjust your leadership style as you grow and
learn through your experiences. Leadership begins with being a great team