by Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
23rd Wing Public Affairs
8/15/2012 - JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The Air Force's highest ranking enlisted leader has issued a challenge for all Airmen to confront difficult issues.
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy spoke to Airmen during a professional development forum here Aug. 14 at the 2012 Air Force Sergeants Association Convention and Professional Airman Conference.
He charged leaders to boldly lead in a digital age and face tough issues such as sexual assault and suicide head on.
Chief Roy cited a scientific study that suggested technology is making it tougher for people to recognize non-verbal cues. Roy asked how people in the audience show emotion via email or text messages. As people shouted examples such as "smiley face" and "all caps," he warned this is a problem, stressing the need to understand the limitations of technology.
"You've got to get out there and be in front of people," he said. "I will tell you, I have the most appreciation for what a first-line supervisor does."
Next, Roy encouraged the audience to fight against sexual assault.
"The first thing you need to do is realize you have a problem," he said. "Let's be bold about this. Yes, we do have a sexual assault problem, and it's up to us to fix it."
He said bystanders are key to fixing the problem.
"If you're the bystander, are you bold enough to stand up to that action?" he asked the audience. "That's the kind of leadership I'm talking about. That's the kind of leadership we need in the United States Air Force."
Roy moved the conversation to suicide and how leaders can help prevent it. Citing 66 total force suicides so far this calendar year, he said supervisors and leaders must get more involved with their Airmen.
"Easy topic to talk about? No. Important? Absolutely," said Roy. "Human life matters. You matter. You matter to us, and you certainly matter to your families. So, what causes this? I think some of our ability to communicate and work through difficult situations, through conflicts, has an awful lot to do with it."
Roy said he believes Airmen can overcome these challenges by being bold, focusing on people and leading without fear.
8/23/2012 6:06:40 AM ET Just to add to what James and skp stated. I think putting young single airmen in their own rooms in the dorm was a bad move. These folks are islolated back at the dorm. When I had a roommate for the first four years of enlistment you at least you had to acknowledge each other. Now an airman is by himself when he's in the dorm. Lets give these folks roommates. Can't be a wingman playing call of duty in your room by yourself.
Prior, the Stan
8/17/2012 2:06:32 PM ET I agree with the Chief...our ability to socialize and recognize non-verbal communication has been significantly reduced over the last 10-15 years...another falacy of the Information Age...the only cure is to step away from the computer and get personally involved...no email...no texts...face to face...
James Mathews, Peterson AFB
8/16/2012 9:02:34 PM ET I absolutely agree with the CMSAF. Here is my issue the AF has been gutted of personnel for many years now. I can't even count how many folks have one deep slots and 20 additional duties. Some may say this is just another excuse but I would say that these folks can keep thinking that way and continue to see things get worse. I guess getting more people is not going to happen so lets face the ACTUAL difficult decisions. The AF is great at cutting people but not processes. If our focus is going to be people lets actually make it a priority and give our NCOs time to get out from their desk. Reduce the amount of time spent on dumb stuff and I promise you things will get better. Just my 0.02
8/16/2012 4:10:39 PM ET It goes back to the old concept of the sup taking care of the troop from the time they get up till they go to bed. As unit barracks concept disappeared and more troops married the abilities of the SupsNCO to follow this cincept has fallen somewhat. It's a hard job but it needs to be done right.
8/16/2012 11:50:26 AM ET As a former First Sergeant it's obvious to me that the Chief has hit the nail right on the head. I retired in 85 and those sound like ideas we all used to preach. Especially - Get to know your troops and their families
Edward J. Lyman, Citrus Heights CA
8/15/2012 7:21:59 PM ET I agree with the CMSAF, NCOs get away from your desk and see how your troops are doing daily. SNCOs get off your carcasses and ensure all your airmen are taken care of. I hate hearing ohhh there a manager now. There's not an E-10 grade. Chief's look out for your units and take care of those that are seeking big blue help. 66 suicides is out of control.