Full-time first sergeant role makes big impact on 307th Bomb Wing

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Ted Daigle
  • 307th Bomb Wing

Trying to keep up with Master Sgt. Kaitlin Schaeffer can be exhausting. When the 307th Bomb Wing's full-time first sergeant isn't dashing busily around the wing, she's running half-marathons for fun.

Even her office walls are busy, adorned with whiteboards full of plans and lists. But there is one way to get her to slow down: tell her an Airman needs help.

"I love people, and my main goal is to connect with Airmen in the wing," said Schaeffer.

That is precisely the type of attitude Air Force Reserve Command officials hoped for when they gave one of 30 full-time first sergeant slots to the 307th BW. The permanent first sergeant initiative was in response to a directive by AFRC commander Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee to increase resiliency resources throughout the command.

Most reserve first sergeants can be present a few days per month. While helpful, AFRC leadership recognized the need for more support.

"There are several personal issues that can come up between UTA's, where our Airmen may rely on the Wing to help them in an emergent situation," said Chief Master Sgt. Leonard Werner, III, 307th Bomb Wing command chief. "The full-time first sergeant is that integral contact that may be relied upon at a
moment's notice to save a life, offer guidance, or simply be a wingman in the best and darkest times."

Schaeffer hit the ground running when she received the assignment last January, immediately reaching out to Airmen and their leadership in any way she could.

Her tool of choice? Donuts.

"I have a mantra that breaking bread builds bonds," said Schaeffer of her unorthodox approach. "Standing around eating with people lets them lower their guard, and we can connect."

She explained those connections are vital, so Airmen in the wing feel comfortable coming to her if they are in crisis.

"A difficult time can do one of three things to a person: it can diminish them; it can define them, or it can develop them," she said. "I'm all about the development piece."

Schaeffer said she tries to reach every squadron in the wing at least once a week. That frequency helps reserve first sergeants to take over during UTA's.

But Schaeffer hasn't stopped at reaching out to people in the moment. She is also looking to the future by establishing greater lines of communication between the units through the wing's Rising Six program.

The program is designed to build leadership skills for E-1 through E-6. The Airmen meet monthly to look at needs and concerns within the wing, offer solutions and implement them when possible.