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NEWS | May 6, 2022

Reaching a goal through adversity

By Amn. Mikaela Smith 633d ABW Pa

“From the moment I stepped foot into Basic Military Training, becoming a Chief was a goal of mine,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Amanda Hass, the senior enlisted leader for the 633d Force Support Squadron.

“When I was in Basic Military Training 21 years ago, I remember opening up a portfolio and the first person I saw was the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. I remember thinking, that’s so awesome, I want to be that person.’’

The road to the highest enlisted rank is never easy and can come with many adventures, as well as many different adversities.

Upon graduating BMT, Hass was sexually assaulted by a fellow Airman. When Hass reported the incident, leadership decided not to pursue it legally as the Airman was already being discharged for other discrepancies.

Unfortunately, things didn’t stop there.

“There were a lot of personal adversities I had to overcome,” said Hass. Hass was sexually assaulted, sexually harassed, received many misogynistic comments, among other personal challenges, including the loss of her son, throughout her career.

“I joined thinking we were all equal as human beings and that I was going to be safe. Dealing with sexual assault and harassment made me feel like I wasn’t worthy,” said Hass. “It made me feel as if being a female in the Air Force didn’t mean as much as my male counterparts. I think, that alone, made me question whether it was the right decision for me to come in. But I’m still here, and instead I decided to prove them wrong.”

Hass has served in the military for 21 years and continues to serve. She has been given many opportunities to be a leader and mentor, including serving time as a First Sergeant.

According to Hass, her role as a First Sergeant gave her the opportunity to see things a lot of people don’t get to see. Over the years she has served, the Air Force has improved and taken steps to eliminate sexual assault and harassment. Hass said where things once could be brushed under a rug, there are now policies in place where leadership has to investigate.

“The Air Force does a good job with spreading awareness and I think that should continue to happen. We say zero tolerance, but we have to show that,” said Hass. “When I was a First Sergeant, a lot of the sexual assault and harassment cases I saw could have been prevented. We have to be good wingmen— we need to have the courage as an individual to say something. We have to stop being afraid to step in and stop being a bystander.”

When Hass made Chief Master Sgt., it was a proud day for her. Only one percent of the Air Force makes it to the highest enlisted rank.

One of the most rewarding parts of her service was when she was deployed to Kuwait from June 2020 to Jan. 2021. 

“I was the squadron superintendent for the Joint Expeditionary Tasked Airmen and I had 98 Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSC) under me. They didn’t care what AFSC I was,” said Hass. “The fact that, as a Chief, I was able to help them when they reached out was eye opening and one of the most rewarding experiences so far.”

According to Hass her favorite part of being a Chief is using that extra stripe to help Airmen.

“I really do want to mentor my Airmen, not only through the Air Force, but through life. I know that my Airmen can't be 100 percent if they are not 100 percent in their life,” said Hass. “Being able to mentor and guide them through both personal and professional things they encounter is a huge goal of mine. I want them to know that they are a part of a family, that they are cared for and accepted the way that they are. I want to create an environment of success for them.”

According to Tech. Sgt. Christy Holguin, Hass is unique in the way that she engages with her Airmen.

Holguin is a dining facility manager with the 509th FSS at Whiteman Air Force Base and one of Hass’ former Airmen. She stayed in touch with Hass over the years and remains a close friend.

According to Holguin, Hass is a genuine leader, always honest and is very intuitive and empathetic when someone is going through something. Holguin said no matter what she was going through personally, Hass never took it out on you while at work and that her positivity is infectious.

“Hass always knew what she wanted. When she has a goal in mind, she works very hard to reach that goal and when success comes to her, it’s very well deserved,” said Holguin. “Throughout everything she’s been through, Hass never let what happened to her define her. It’s inspiring to see someone align with their purpose and goals, despite how hard the road ahead becomes. We can only decide when we stop.”

Hass continues to press on and help those she can.

“The adversities I have had to overcome in my personal life have taught me many things, but one of the first and foremost things it has taught me is to listen. A lot of people listen to respond, and I think learning how to listen to comprehend and understand what the individual is saying and going through is huge,” said Hass. “I’ve learned to be empathetic and yes, that has a lot to do with what I have been through, because a lot of time I didn’t have leadership there for me. Having the ability to be empathetic towards the things people are going through and not pass judgment is definitely huge and what I pride myself on when I have those interactions with my Airmen.”