When you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to envision MTIs being caring, compassionate individuals, especially in those first few weeks of training. My MTI always stressed to us that our health and well-being were his first priority. Yes, we were there to be broken down and reshaped into model Airmen, and the methods were sometimes questionable, but the intentions were good. This morning a read a story shared by an MTI who I considered the most intimidating individual in my BMT experience. He was the only MTI to ever make me cry. He was from the old school style of training and had been at Lackland forever, mentoring MTIs and trainees alike. Here are his words, as I read them this morning: “Today was one of the BEST days of my AF Career! We had a new recruit who just arrived at Basic Training 8 days ago. For the last year, he and his wife have been homeless. Not poor, homeless, as in sleeping on the streets. His wife just arrived in San Antonio two days ago via Greyhound bus from West Virginia, with nothing but the clothes on her back. She had been sleeping at the station and random places downtown for the last two days until someone with a kind heart asked how she was. Once she explained why she was here and knew no one they contacted the Air Force Aide Society. They found her husband in Basic Training. Within a couple of hours, both his MTI, his First Sergeant, and her husband went downtown to pick her up at the Greyhound station. I contacted Processing to get the ball rolling on getting both his and his wife’s military ID cards. She needed the military ID card to have access to all facilities to include medical care, you see she’s 3 months pregnant. His First Sergeant got his wife a place to stay on base free of charge for the next month, and food vouchers for groceries. We did this with the support of many great Airman leaders working after duty hours and with a smile on their faces. We got them all they ever needed, and for the last year never had within a few hours. Finally, as she was being escorted to her new home and I escorted this new recruit back to training, I said to him, ‘This is how WE welcome our brothers and sisters into OUR family. Although WE have never met you or your wife, we don’t care what you have or what you didn’t have, you are in OUR family now. I am proud to call you brother. Welcome to the United States Air Force.’ He looked back at me and with a soft smile said, ‘Thank you, Sir.’ BEST DAY EVER!!!”
This is what it’s all about – the brotherhood and sisterhood of service members. The commitment to the country and to our fellow man. As the Airman’s Creed states boldly and with pride, I will never leave an Airman behind. It is my honor to consider this MTI as a mentor.