These Airmen nowadays

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Dooms
  • 721st Mission Support Group superintendent
I often find myself saying "these Airmen nowadays!" I'd say it's a rite of passage, but let me pose one simple question. Were we really that much different than these Airmen nowadays? There are plenty of you saying yes I was! Hold that thought.

When I entered the Air Force in 1987, I was one of those Airmen who provided my supervisors nothing but headaches, attitude, and plenty of self-absorbed opinions. I found myself saying "these old people nowadays." I wasn't a bad Airman by any stretch but I was an 18-year-old-kid who thought he knew everything about the world and no one could tell me differently. Not much changes from one generation to the next.

My supervisor, first sergeant, chief, and commander would always say; "Amn Dooms, you have no clue how lucky you have it" which led to some long rant on how hard life was when they were Airmen. I always waited for them to say "I walked to work, uphill both the snow" at which point I would roll my eyes and say "give it a rest old timer"...just like my 16-year-old daughter does to me daily. Was it my fault that I had a VCR, a Sony Walkman, a pair of Nike Air Jordans, bazillion music cassettes, and a TV that didn't sit on the floor? I was simply taking advantage of what technology offered while making my life simpler. Not too much different than what Airmen are doing these days. Every generation gets the privilege of experiencing the latest and greatest innovations. Currently, it's the Blue Ray players, iPods, Nike Air Jordans (some things never go out of style), the internet, TVs light enough to hang on the wall, and yes, the cell phone, which is probably one of the greatest and most irritating inventions ever introduced!

One of the great things about my job, I have the honor of speaking to First Term Airmen Center and Airman Leadership School classes. I usually go in with eagerness and excitement but leave realizing how different our perspectives are. I usually get on my soapbox saying I'm old enough to be your father and "you Airmen nowadays have no clue how lucky you have it!" Without fail, once I say it, I always flash back to the late '80s when I heard the exact same thing from my leaders. Somewhere along the way, I became that person I use to make fun of. Karma is a tough pill to swallow!

We all know the Airmen nowadays are different, but they are only different because- wait for it - we're getting older! As we get older, our thought processes change, our philosophies change, our beliefs change, the way we view the younger generation changes, and our hair lines change. Are the Airmen changing or are we changing? The way I see it...I think I turned out ok, I'll say that my fellow SNCO's have turned out ok and we're helping lead the greatest Air Force the world has ever seen. This only happened because our supervisors saw through our shortcomings, mentored us, and never gave up on our generation. I know the "old timers" are doing the same thing today...seeing through our Airmen's shortcomings and mentoring them daily with the occasional "these Airmen nowadays." Quite soon, we're going to turn over the reins of our great Air Force to this current generation and I for one am 100 percent confident and have absolutely no doubt they will succeed. Besides, if they need our help...they'll text us, send us a Facebook message, or tweet us. I sure do miss the '80s.