The Kaiserslautern Military Community’s First Sergeant Council hosted a symposium for spouses of first sergeant candidates on Ramstein Air Base, Oct. 18.
The first sergeant, a title commonly referred to as “shirt” or “first shirt” is responsible for the morale, welfare and conduct of all the enlisted members in a squadron and is the chief adviser to the squadron commander regarding the enlisted force.
Being a first sergeant is a taxing job and learning to manage stress and time is vital in order to be an effective ally for Airmen.
To better prepare spouses and families for the drastic changes that come along with becoming a “shirt,” the First Sergeant Spouses Symposium provided education and insight into the job and responsibilities of a first sergeant.
There is a new hiring process for first sergeants. In the past, “shirts” were only nominated. The new process will permit a nomination process, as well as allow qualified Airmen to volunteer, in the hopes of acquiring exceptionally motivated Airmen.
“The job of a first sergeant will be the most rewarding job imaginable, but it also will come with long hours, phone calls around the clock, high levels of stress and emotional fatigue,” said Master Sgt. Devin O’Donnell, 86th Communication Maintenance Squadron first sergeant.
With a first sergeant being on-call 24 hours a day, a “shirt’s” spouse has to understand the roles, responsibilities and expectations of their partner’s job to maintain a stable home environment.
“The challenges that first sergeant spouses face are many of the same that their military counterpart is facing,” said O’Donnell. “Whether it be unexpected calls that take their spouse away from the family during the holidays or being there to support their spouse when they come home after dealing with extremely emotional situations, being a first sergeant is a family affair.”
The FSC is scheduled to host a first sergeant spouse symposium twice a year.
“To most military members, the responsibilities that come along with becoming a first sergeant are a drastic change from their previous Air Force Specialty Code, in terms of stress and scope of responsibility,” said O’Donnell. “These changes will undoubtedly have a huge impact on not only the military member but their families as well. We encourage spouses to attend these events to give an opportunity to get some insight into the job and get answers to any questions that they may have.”