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Mentorship, diversity in focus during 19th AF leadership visit

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kristina L. Rogers, 19th Air Force command chief, greets Airmen before the Chief and Senior NCO mentorship lunch on March 29, 2020, in Hangar 97 at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Rogers answered Airmen’s questions and gave them advice on how to handle crucial conversations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kristina L. Rogers, 19th Air Force command chief, greets Airmen before the Chief and Senior NCO mentorship lunch on March 29, 2020, in Hangar 97 at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Rogers answered Airmen’s questions and gave them advice on how to handle crucial conversations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, listens to an Airman’s question during the Company Grade Officer (CGO) mentorship breakfast on March 30, 2020, at Club Altus on Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Wills mentored CGOs and other officers during his visit, providing advice on several topics including how to better care for Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, listens to an Airman’s question during the Company Grade Officer (CGO) mentorship breakfast on March 30, 2020, at Club Altus on Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Wills mentored CGOs and other officers during his visit, providing advice on several topics including how to better care for Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

Members of the 97th Air Mobility Wing and community leaders pose for a group photo on March 29, 2020, at Charlie’s on Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Altus local leaders received the opportunity to meet with Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, and connect with other military leaders during dinner at Charlie’s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

Members of the 97th Air Mobility Wing and community leaders pose for a group photo on March 29, 2020, at Charlie’s on Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Altus local leaders received the opportunity to meet with Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, and connect with other military leaders during dinner at Charlie’s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kristina L. Rogers, 19th Air Force command chief, and Chief Master Sgt. Randy Kay II, 97th Air Mobility Wing command chief, engage with A Chief and Senior NCO during a mentorship lunch on March 29, 2020, in Hangar 97 at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. During the lunch, Rogers spoke about “hot topics” such as the new hair regulations and fitness testing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kristina L. Rogers, 19th Air Force command chief, and Chief Master Sgt. Randy Kay II, 97th Air Mobility Wing command chief, engage with A Chief and Senior NCO during a mentorship lunch on March 29, 2020, in Hangar 97 at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. During the lunch, Rogers spoke about “hot topics” such as the new hair regulations and fitness testing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Leard, 97th Air Mobility Wing (AMW) commander, briefs Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Kristina L. Rogers, 19th Air Force command chief], on March 29, 2020, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. During the brief, Leard provided updates about the 97th AMW mission and the installation's successes and challenges within the last year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Leard, 97th Air Mobility Wing (AMW) commander, briefs Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Kristina L. Rogers, 19th Air Force command chief], on March 29, 2020, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. During the brief, Leard provided updates about the 97th AMW mission and the installation's successes and challenges within the last year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

Women from Mobility’s hometown pose for a photo on March 31, 2021, during a Coffee and Connect event at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The monthly female focused meetups connect women, both military and civilian, with mentors to empower themselves and strengthen their skill set. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Breanna Klemm)

Women from Mobility’s hometown pose for a photo on March 31, 2021, during a Coffee and Connect event at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The monthly female focused meetups connect women, both military and civilian, with mentors to empower themselves and strengthen their skill set. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Breanna Klemm)

U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Leard, 97th Air Mobility Wing (AMW) commander, speaks during a brief to Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, March 29, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. During Wills’ visit to the 97 AMW, he received multiple briefings explaining the updates and changes being made across the wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Leard, 97th Air Mobility Wing (AMW) commander, speaks during a brief to Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, March 29, 2021, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. During Wills’ visit to the 97 AMW, he received multiple briefings explaining the updates and changes being made across the wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.-- Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, and Chief Master Sergeant Kristina Rogers, 19th AF command chief, visited the Airmen of Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, March 29 to 31.

The leaders’ visit included several opportunities to better immerse themselves in the 97th Air Mobility Wing’s rapid global mobility mission. They also met with several enlisted Airmen, officers and civic leaders for sit-down discussions. Wills and Rogers concluded their visit with a commander’s call focusing on why diversity and inclusion are an important foundation to the Air Force and how Airmen can build a stronger force when cultivating a culture of dignity and respect.

“This humble base is the heartbeat of producing world-class mobility Airmen who will go out and serve our country,” Wills said. “They will lead our Air Force and our country to the future, and that starts right here with the Air Education Training Command.”

The highest level of 97th AMW leaders associate the vision of the wing with executing the “world’s premier training,” which requires the performance of “elite Airmen.” In order to cultivate these kinds of Airmen, Wills said, a foundation of trust and decency is necessary. 

“You're not entitled to very much when you wake up in the morning and put on your uniform,” he said. “There are very few things that you're actually, truly entitled. Right at the top of the list is that you're entitled to work in an environment where you're treated with dignity and respect. This means, whether you're black or white, male or female, gay or straight, the baseline is dignity and respect. If we do that right, we'll have a better country and a better Air Force.”

Rogers agreed, encouraging Airmen to have crucial conversations with people from different backgrounds other than their own while taking the time to understand who they are.

“As we look at how we develop and train Airmen, what's most important is the environment and the culture that we set. It's imperative on all of us to make sure that every Airman understands where they fit into the mission and that they understand how important they are. We need everybody on the team, whether officer, enlisted, civilian or contractor, to know they matter.”

Speaking on learning and innovation, Wills noted that the Air Force has trained pilots and aircrew the same way for years, and that although it works well, innovation is required to bring the change needed to keep up with U.S. adversaries. 

“Our system is awesome because we can take somebody off the street who's never even ridden on an airplane before, and in a few months, we’ll make that awesome loadmaster or boom operator,” he said. “But the problem we have is, the system that brought us this far is not going to take us where we need to go.”

Near the end of their time with “Mobility’s Hometown,” Wills and Rogers shared their thoughts on wellness and mental health . Rogers shared her philosophy on how to better connect with one another. 

“We've talked a lot about having difficult conversations...we need to have the crucial conversation,” she said. “It's how we show up for people. It's how we react to what they share with us. Are we actively listening? Are we open to their perspective? Do we understand their story? It's the people piece that matters. It's my belief the only way we're going to get after this is if we come together and truly, truly take care of people and understand what they're going through.”

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