Mentoring the next generation of Airmen

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Larsen
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Team XL spent the past 31 days recognizing National Mentoring Month through deliberate development and focusing on how mentoring can help maximize personal and team performance.

The Department of the Air Force theme for National Mentoring Month 2024 is “Are You Ready?”

“Are You Ready?” is a call to action for all members to engage in mentoring relationships, both as mentors and mentees, recognizing that preparedness for any challenge is significantly enhanced through shared knowledge and experience, according to a Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs article.

During the month, the 47th Flying Training Wing continued its mission of developing Airmen and civilians through multiple professional development events.

“Mentorship isn’t just important here at Laughlin, but around the Air Force,” said Master Sgt. James Wolnik, 47th FTW development advisor. “The military focuses a lot on mentorship, but our civilian population needs mentorship as well. It allows people to grow, we want to grow our civilians, we want to grow our military, and we want the team to thrive.”

Growth is important for the future of the Air Force, as the Airmen of today will become the senior leaders of tomorrow.

Developing leadership skills and the mentoring movement is a significant part of the 47th FTW and the Air Education Training Command’s mission: ensuring the Air Force has the Airmen and pilots needed for the future.

Leadership and mentorship from today's senior leaders will shape how the next generation of Airmen will grow.

“For our military force it’s important that we are investing in them,” said Wolnik. “We need to create that comradery and that environment in which their growth and development have the ability to flourish.”

Given the unique employment structure at Laughlin, ensuring the professional growth of Laughlin's civilian workforce is also important.

Just under half of Laughlin's workforce is made up of civilian employees so providing developmental courses, such as the "Grow Your Own" program, where local students gain experience by an internship with the 47th Maintenance Division, will help to continue producing high-quality work.

“Being a mentor is a chance to bring up the next generation of leaders in the Air Force, on both the civilian and active duty side,” said Christine Engle, Laughlin Education and Training chief. “Here at Laughlin, we have a lot of young folks just starting out their civil service career, those of us who have been around the block a few times need not just to set them up skill-wise, but also to know what the federal system is like.”

Mentorship is not just showing Airmen how to do a job, it is displaying how to be an Airman and how to serve in the Air Force.

“Mentoring is more than just sharing knowledge; it's about building the leaders of tomorrow,” said U.S. Air Force Director of Force Development Crystal Moore. “By investing in our people today, we are ensuring a more capable and resilient force for the future. Every conversation, every piece of advice, contributes to our collective readiness and adaptability. Finally, it’s important to me that every Total Force Airman and Guardian recognizes that anyone can be a mentor — one of my best mentors was a peer."

As the Air Force closes out National Mentoring Month, reflect on the DAF theme ... are you ready?