Top enlisted Airman issues challenge

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
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.