The Whole Airman Concept

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Bonnie Gheen and Staff Sgt. Sarah Galati
  • Space and Missile Systems Center
From the moment any member joins the United States Air Force, whether through active duty, Guard, Reserve or as a civilian, they are introduced to the Whole Airman Concept, or WAC. It’s a concept that lays an unbreakable foundation of service for all Airmen through three major components: leadership and job performance, significant self-improvement, and base/community involvement.

Leadership and job performance is the cornerstone of the WAC and is, by far, the concept’s most important component in that it exemplifies the Air Force’s core values of Integrity First, Service before Self, and Excellence in all we do.

By focusing on leadership growth and outstanding job performance, an Airman will undoubtedly shine in all aspects of the Air Force Core Values. It is also imperative that each Airman understands their vital role in accomplishing the mission, while continuously striving, each and every day, to become leaders and technical experts in their respective career fields.

Leadership and job performance focuses on this effort and on mission impact; it enables Airmen to drive positive change at all levels of the Air Force and the Department of Defense.

Significant self-improvement, or SSI, is the persistent development of oneself. There is no better way to rapidly change one’s mindset, lifestyle, or circumstances than through education. A laser focus on education is the key way to fundamentally alter one’s vector in life; education is essential to good citizenship and it enables personnel to better contribute to their community and their country.

Other areas of SSI hone skills such as time management, critical thinking, and research and analysis. Developing these indispensable skills will have far reaching impacts in an Airman’s military career and in their civilian life, whenever they decide to make a change or adjustment.

The best thing about SSI is that there is no shortage of education or improvement options, such as: Professional Development Courses, Professional Military Education, Developmental Special Duty, college courses, joining professional organizations, etc. Continuous evolution is certainly challenging but we know our Airmen are up to the task! The benefits of SSI are countless and it is, unquestionably, a force multiplier.

Base and community involvement is all about giving back. The Air Force hopes to instill all of us with an insatiable appetite to give our time and talents to the people and causes that need them.

We can all attest that serving our nation, the greatest county that world has ever known, has bestowed many blessings upon all of us. When we think about giving back, we think about serving not only inside the fence line but also outside the fence line…in our civilian communities.

Every community needs our help. There isn’t a community in the world that doesn’t need volunteers. By giving back, an Airmen builds a sense of community pride and learns critical leadership skills along the way. Being a living example, an Airmen leading in our communities across the nation, inevitably strengthens each Airmen, as well as our military and civilian communities.

The Whole Airman Concept is the bedrock of what it means to be an Airman. It ensures Airmen are performing at the highest level and that they are better prepared to lead and mentor those around them. When we live by this concept, while serving in the military, it becomes second nature in our everyday lives.

At the end of the day, the WAC is not about bullets, appraisals, decorations, EPRs/OPRs, awards, etc. In fact, it isn’t even just about the Air Force. It is bigger than that.

It is our hope that Airmen, after leaving the Air Force, will continue to personify the WAC. Can you imagine how powerful our nation will be, if and when the time comes for the over 660,000 active, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen to separate or retire from service, if they were to continue to live by the Whole Airmen Concept? Think about how POWERFUL our nation will be!

Be a Whole Airman…Be a Whole American!