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A simple thank you goes a long way

In today’s instant gratification world, we are easily disgruntled if something doesn’t happen immediately. Because we are used to our cell phones and social media, we have become less and less inclined to deal with the human element of the mission.

For example, when we have to call in a trouble ticket, most folks are already irritated and tend to take out their frustrations on the already undermanned and underappreciated help desk personnel. I have been guilty of this myself. I recently had to call in my own trouble ticket, which took over a week to resolve. I was definitely frustrated. Worse, when I realized I had to actually go over to the communications focal point, I was dreading it because we all know that means my issue was not going to be resolved quickly.   

As I waited in the CFP for the senior airman to fix my iPhone, I was amazed at his speed and knowledge. As he tackled many network issues to fix my phone, I watched in awe. It took him over an hour to complete the task. When he finally finished his task, he actually jumped for joy and was very proud to tell me he had closed my trouble ticket. I said thank you and told him how much I appreciated what he had accomplished, noting that it would make my job much easier while I am away from the office.

As I was standing up to leave I overheard one of the Airmen in the background say “Thank you? What does that mean? We don’t really hear that very much anymore.” Hearing that made me stop and think. What that staff sergeant said is accurate. We are a mission-focused force. To top this off, we have been asked to accomplish the mission with fewer people and resources, yet our Airmen knock out the mission every day. From our most junior Airmen to our squadron commanders, we are busier than we have ever been. We answer the call of our nation not just overseas, but here at home as seen recently with hurricane relief efforts launched to the East Coast and Puerto Rico.

I never miss the chance to thank Airmen who work for me and those who help my squadron accomplish the mission. A simple thank you can be the extra kick your Airman needs after a long day on the road or here at home. Thanking your Airmen will let them know you truly appreciate that they had to miss that Little League game or ballet recital. Thanking your Airmen and acknowledging a job well done doesn’t change the fact that they have missed birthdays, first steps or high school graduations, but it surely takes a little of that sting away. To know what you do is appreciated and that your efforts benefitted the mission makes those long hours more worthwhile. Saying thank you lets your Airmen know that you are watching them, that you do notice their efforts and you appreciate their time. I have witnessed many Airman stand up a little straighter, smile after long shifts and beam with pride after hearing a simple thank you. 

We all have a life outside of the Air Force and we all have our own stresses. So don’t take your Airmen for granted. Take the time to observe their efforts and acknowledge their hardships and successes. Saying thank you is not a participation trophy-type event. It is the surest way to acknowledge what your Airmen do for your Air Force on a daily basis.