A first sergeant, a helping hand

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kali L. Gradishar
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Waking up every day, knowing that someone will come to you with their comments and concerns can leave some reaching for the snooze button until sheer desire for job security will yank them out of bed. Others need no coaxing and find fulfillment in lending a helping hand.

It takes a different breed to be on alert to the needs of other people at all times. It takes a U.S. Air Force first sergeant.

Passion. That's the main characteristic that describes what a first sergeant should be, according to Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Sachleban, 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant.

"Upholding the core values - Integrity First. Service before self. Excellence in all we do. - that's all a given," he said. "The thing about being a shirt is that you have to be passionate about taking care of the troops and you have to be passionate about finding out what it is they really need."

The text book function of a first sergeant is to keep the troops mobility ready and keep moral and esprit de corps high in the unit. And in today's Air Force, "that comes in a lot of different packages," said the first sergeant.

Airmen are a diverse group, and like snowflakes, no two Airmen are exactly alike.

"It's always different. You can't use a checklist to deal with people. You need to learn to get people to respond in the appropriate ways," he said.

Problems arise from so many types of situations - work, home, finances, relations or marriages to name a few. It is the first sergeant that provides Airmen with the resources they need to overcome those challenges.

"Here at Fairchild we have some fantastic organizations that I use a lot to help people. There is the Life Skills program, Family Advocacy, the Airman and Family Readiness Center, and the Chapel," said Sergeant Sachleban. "There are a lot of great programs and I use them as a tool.

"The first sergeant acts as a catalyst to exact the appropriate change in behaviors," he said.

Since April 2004 Sergeant Sachleban has dug into the world of the first sergeant and has found that what you put into being a shirt is what you get out of it, and getting things done is just a part of the job.

"When Harry S. Truman was president, he had a sign on his desk that said 'The buck stops here.' That's true for a first sergeant. A lot of things come through and if you don't take care of it, it's not going to happen," he said.

With more than 20 years of service in the Air Force, Sergeant Sachleban has also discovered that if you want a rewarding career, then becoming a first sergeant is the answer.

"I read somewhere that once you move on, whether you separate, retire or PCS, people will soon forget what you said, and they will soon forget whet you've done. But people will never forget how you made them feel," he said.

'Taking care of people and making a difference - that's what I come to work for,' said First Sergeant Sachleban.