In May of 2019, after seven years of active United States Army service, I received the title of interservice transferee. I had the experience of a hungry platoon leader, a burdened commander, and your typical bitter staff officer all to take a leap of faith and join the United States Air Force. I find myself today, after one year as an Air Force staff officer and ironically assigned to the United States Space Force, looking back at what made my transition easier — a common thread of values that stitches us all together.
I have heard quite often that the United State military is the microcosm of society and thus, promotes values that would project into that society. Our military, across the board, has found snazzy ways to display values that look great on a banner or are an easy to memorize acronym. Maybe it is time for America to know what is at our core, our very being. Experience has taught me the foundation of teamwork, mentoring the next leaders, the inherent success of forward-thinkers, the vitality of a service member’s home life, and the invaluable nature of a service member’s time. Our military is deliberate in holding itself accountable to these values, so maybe it is time that America knows what America’s team represents.
Teamwork is the backdrop of all we do whether it is on the ground, in the air, or even space. Teams create competence and a cohesive camaraderie, where locking arms and digging deep together gets us through the hardest of challenges. We focus on inclusion over diversity, where anyone can raise their hand and be heard or even rise to the highest of positions today. When a general is willing to look across a sea of colonels all to ask a captain, “Do you have any thoughts?” is a powerful thing. This is how we grow as human beings and mold the future of our organization.
Our future requires investment and cultivation. As time has went on, I have noticed that the military is very intentional in this regard. We provide resources like officer and non-commissioned officer professional development, as well as career field mentorship pages on Facebook, like the U.S. Air and Space Forces Officer Mentorship Forum. Countless lessons are shared daily that could otherwise improve or divert careers in our military for the better. We see our future success as an investment in our people and inspiring them to innovate, implement and act.
Inspiring forward thinking is what we want and need in order to maintain our competitive edge on the adversary. Forward thinkers can take on many shapes, sizes, beliefs, and even rank. It takes a lot of courage to be someone who looks to the future and willing to selflessly put him or herself out there to promote those ideas. I remember countless times in the Army, where some of the best ideas that changed the entire way we operate, came from a junior soldier willing to speak and an audience willing to listen. Our military deliberately engrains the acknowledgment that people draw that inspiration from somewhere, which may in fact be at home.
Home stability is a significant contributor through a person’s ability to be a team player and forward thinker. We know that home reinvigorates him or her.
Some people have a spouse to come home to, kids, extended family, or even a pet fish. Everyone has a different version of home life and its fragility is in direct proportion to participation in the mission. We have solid leaders that understand that some people just want to make their family proud, serve a higher purpose, get out of that bad neighborhood, or possibly just put food on the table.
Time is fleeting and it is the one thing where, if the calculations are done right, a service member spends more time at work than to themselves or with family. Placing a value on “time” and giving back “time” to our people over our organization is a real culture changer. In our own Space Force, leaders have publicly promoted that we treat the end of the day as the end of the day and being more efficient and work tomorrow can wait until tomorrow. As leaders endorse and promote “time” as a guiding force, we will maintain our own integrity to ourselves and each other.
If we want to resonate with what society needs, we need to be brutally honest with our values. No matter your position within our military, we are the torchbearers. Reinforcing our common thread of teamwork, forward thinking, home life, and time, is how we do it. We have the opportunity, right now when our country arguably needs it the most, to truly project those values into our society.
Landon H.J. Ewers is an active-duty captain in the U.S. Air Force, assigned to the Headquarters, United States Space Force, and is a former U.S. Army company commander with multiple international deployments spanning the Middle East, eastern Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Editor’s note: This is an Op-Ed and as such, the opinions expressed are those of the author. If you would like to respond, or have an editorial of your own you would like to submit, please contact Military Times managing editor Howard Altman, firstname.lastname@example.org.