JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
Airmen assigned to the 633d Medical Group rose to the challenge of low manning and in the process became effective leaders. The Airmen of the Optometry Clinic were thrown into leadership positions and succeeded in making the clinic thrive during a time where there were no non-commissioned officers.
“The additional duties that a flight chief would normally do were the most difficult,” said Senior Airman Erick Diaz, 633 MDG optometry technician. “Juggling time management between giving patient care and the additional duties was challenging at first, but then our team divided up those tasks amongst ourselves, which made it easier!”
Due to enlisted leaders being pulled for special assignments or receiving orders to different bases, the Airmen found themselves in a unique situation. Looking to other sections within the 633 MDG for advice, they were able to receive much needed guidance and gain new perspectives on how to lead the Optometry Clinic.
“Even though we were without an NCO at the time, my teammates cultivated a great work environment which made it worthwhile to come in every day,” Diaz said.
In the Air Force, it is unusual for there to be a gap in leadership personnel. When the occasion arose, the optometry Airmen greeted the challenge head-on.
“I received the chance to do tasks that an Airman 1st Class wouldn’t normally do. I had no idea what NCOs did and I got to see how stressful it can be,” said Diaz. “Overall, it was a great experience that helped my career because I feel more confident for whenever I get to that rank.”
Senior Master Sgt. Monica Alvarado, 633 MDG Optometry Clinic flight chief, came in and filled the leadership position that the clinic was lacking. Since stepping into this role, she recognizes the amazing work ethic that her new team displays, acknowledging the NCO gap as a priceless learning opportunity for her Airmen.
“Coming here, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ve been extremely impressed with how well the clinic runs and how smoothly their additional duties are handled,” Alvarado said. “These Airmen clearly know their job and have acclimated to being responsible for these programs. Between Senior Airman Diaz and the others essentially running the clinic, I’ve never been more impressed or proud of a group of Airmen.”
While manning is a prevalent topic across the Air Force, there is something to be said about the resiliency and determination instilled within today’s Airmen. Through this experience, the Optometry team is truly ready for any challenge and continues to strive to build a bigger and better Air Force.