PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Florida --
From birth to death – we join together before starting new chapters.
Parents host baby showers, teachers hand out diplomas and communities erect memorials.
These celebrations and observances provide us with an essential sense of resolution, which allow groups to move forward.
However, some of our most honorable service members insist on discreetly gliding past career milestones like command changes, retirements and separations.
“I understand that some people want to slip out and I respect that,” said Master Sgt. Ricardo De La Cruz, 920th Security Forces Squadron action officer. “However, it’s beneficial for the troops to see their leadership move on; whether it’s a formal ceremony or informal, like a barbecue. It’s an opportunity to pay homage to the member, and it’s an Air Force tradition.”
De La Cruz, a Reserve Citizen Airman stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, attributes the desire to step aside unnoticed to modesty.
He shared his thoughts with me during Chief Stacie Moore’s farewell activities, which included a five kilometer ruck march and an obstacle course on Oct. 13. The now-retired chief was the 920th SFS manager. De La Cruz agreed it was important to share those final moments as a team considering Moore’s many contributions.
“He’ll drop anything to take a call from one of his Airmen,” said De La Cruz. “I didn’t think I would need a mentor at this point in my career, but he’s definitely filled those shoes by giving me advice about work and life in general.”
A change in leadership can be tough for those who might see you as a mentor. As a Reservist, I’ve witnessed the uncertainty employers leave behind with sudden, unannounced shifts in the private sector. That’s why it is important to give your team closure, ensuring smooth transitions in the work place.
“These folks have always been family,” said Moore. “We’re going to take today to rally the troops with a team-building exercise. I want them to know that just because I’m leaving, doesn’t mean things are going to fall apart. There’s still a team. There’s still comradery. There’s still a bond.”
As you pursue new adventures, don’t leave those bonds up to assumption. Relationships are built with actions and reinforced with words. As a lifelong member of the Air Force family, your contributions are appreciated and you will be missed. I encourage all of you to stay in contact with that family and to give your subordinates closure when it’s your time to pass the baton.