Chaplains Corner October

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Elvia Sanchez
  • 452 AMW Chaplains Office

Have you grown too comfortable?  Feeling like you need a challenge?  Are you at that point where you need to learn new skills and advance your Air Force career?  I was feeling that way, which resulted in me spending five weeks at ALS (Airman Leadership School) in residence at Edwards AFB. It was strenuous to say the least! As they say, “If you think you can breeze through ALS in-residence, you are wrong!”   Not only were we learning leadership skills, but we were also physically challenged.  Homework, drill, and exercise were the main components of the course.  So if you haven’t practiced drill since basic training and you are scheduled to attend ALS, you may want to revisit “about, face!” 


While ALS was rewarding and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment on graduation night (it was as special as graduating basic training), there were of course side effects.  Sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and complete and utter disorientation, to name a few. Then, in what seemed like an endless game of trying to figure out instructions for homework, there was the anxiety of not knowing what will be on the final test.  While this might sound like an exaggeration, and it probably is, anyone going through ALS will undoubtedly end up completely stressed out!


But here’s what I gained through this challenge: confidence, leadership skills, and the capacity to work under pressure.  There were times I didn’t recognize myself; had I been at home in my civilian job, I would have handled things differently.  However, in a new environment, with new people, and the constant yelling in my face as class leader, I literally felt lost and confused. 


But as is the Air Force culture, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my wingmen.  The amazing Airmen I had in class understood the extra pressures put on me as class leader and encouraged me to keep moving forward.  Failure was not an option for any of us.  So after five weeks of what seemed like “Basic Training 2 – The Saga Continues”, I learned the value of leading with confidence and the value of having my wingmen by my side.  But most of all, I appreciated the differences in a group that encompassed diversity at its best.


So while ALS felt like the growing pains of leadership, it was exactly what I needed. I gained not only an entire new perspective of myself, but also the newly acquired world of NCO’s.  What about you?  ALS may not be the challenge you are seeking.  Perhaps you have other challenges: new relationships, job decisions, friendships, health issues, etc. You name it, the list can be endless.  I have experienced on occasion here and there that one of the best ways to deal with these storms in our lives is, as the great American poet, Robert Frost, once said, “The best way out is always through.”