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A day in the life of a first sergeant

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- How can dealing with hundreds of people's issues and concerns be the best job in the Air Force?

A day in the life of a first sergeant is a hectic one filled with juggling priorities. Our highest priority is taking care of people. That's what we do and why our job exists. Our mission in life is to provide the unit commander with a mission-ready enlisted force prepared to execute the nation's business 24/7.

The first sergeant works directly for, and derives their authority from, the commander and serves as the commander's critical link within the unit for all matters concerning enlisted members. Additionally, first sergeants are accountable to respond to the needs of unit members at all times.

They must remain vigilant and use the necessary authority to resolve issues that, if left unchecked, would adversely impact readiness. Specifically, first sergeants communicate with unit leadership, supervisors and members to ensure discipline is equitably maintained and the morale, welfare and health needs of the enlisted force are met.

The first sergeant serves as the commander's advisor on personnel programs, career progression, family needs, financial matters, family and unaccompanied housing details, professional military education, recognition programs and any additional needs required by the commander.

Each day is different and you really don't know what to expect from a "normal" day. A first sergeant always wants to get out in the field where his Airmen serve, but the demand to help others tends to keep us in the office more than we'd like.

A day in the life of a first sergeant is filled with seeing people grow and step up to the challenge of leadership. It could be watching an Airman become a supervisor or a young man become a proud father.

Wanting everyone to succeed -- regretting the ones who wouldn't live up to their potential or even try.

Watching the real leaders do more than their share -- again and again.

Crying at a funeral or praying at an accident, and hoping the ambulance that just went by isn't carrying one of your folks.

Driving up to an accident, realizing a higher being had a hand in keeping someone from getting killed, or the unfortunate duty of talking to the parents or spouse of someone who wasn't so fortunate.

Watching a family go through the throes of pregnancy, and gently holding the proud parents' new child.

Watching someone's eyes moisten when you hand them a new set of stripes and a line number.

Learning to listen to the underlying emotions, not just the words.

Trying to discern when someone's pulling your leg -- and hoping they aren't.

Starting off idealistically -- wanting to change things for the better and realizing your political clout is a teeny tiny thing in the big picture - then deciding to settle for changing one thing at a time in your control.

Hoping you made a difference -- getting a Christmas card from someone who thought you did make a difference and never, ever knowing what the next call, or the next day, will bring.

Without a doubt being a first sergeant is the best job in the Air Force.