Monday, November 19, 2012

Words from an OAY: SMSgt Callaway

Just in time for the holidays, we've been fortunate to have several of the 2012 Outstanding Airmen of the Year (OAY) lend themselves to being guest bloggers. The distinguished title of OAY is given annually to 12 outstanding enlisted personnel for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement, and personal achievements. AFA honors the 12 Outstanding Airmen at our annual convention in September in Washington, D.C. 

In this blog series, the OAYs will share with readers their experiences as an OAY, offer a glimpse into some of their fears and give insight to their field of expertise.

The first guest blogger is Senior Master Sergeant Laura Callaway, of the 60th Medical Operations Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, California. Her duty title is "Physical Medicine/Emergency Department Support. SMSgt Callaway led the Air Force’s largest physical medicine and emergency departments and forged a clinical practicum with the University of California-Davis, which was identified as a career field benchmark. She secured a multi-year contract worth $2 million to ensure on-site care for veterans, reducing diverted care by 30% and saving $500,000. Sergeant Callaway cultivated the Air Force’s largest civilian physical therapy training exchange program, chartering agreements with five universities to work with 15 interns and saving the Air Force $600,000.

There are so many words to describe the amazing opportunity afforded to represent the outstanding enlisted men and women of today's Air Force. There are two things that immediately came with this honor and oddly
enough two of my greatest fears. Public speaking and being photographed...I know most people who know me would laugh at that statement as many have heard me "speak my mind" but it's funny how God and life put you in places for reasons.

I would say up until now that I have been able to speak about very specific, job related or personal events that are so close to me that I can ramble on for days about them. Now with a specific audience and an expectation I find myself out of my comfort zone. I am excited but nervous, anxious but intimidated...I don't want to disappoint anyone. I find myself listening to everyone from an educational point of view, trying to pick-up any "golden nuggets" they might throw out on how to speak eloquently. I am floored by the many different styles, I listened to a 75-year-old man speak about his past and the future, very specific, spelled out, 10-page speech. I listened to the Wing Commander, who was told an hour before that he would be speaking, and went to the podium with a couple of things jotted down on a napkin, hit it out of the park. I listened to our Command Chief speak to the newest members of our Air Force, warmed them up and made them feel relaxed, was able to pull ideas and topics from them and relate it to his goal. Then I spent the weekend stressing, reviewing, practicing and changing a 10 minute speech of my own. 

As for the 2nd fear, photographs...I have never liked having my picture taken, as long as I can remember. Don't really know why, just feel uncomfortable with lights, cameras, maybe it's the focusing part, but I am getting over it pretty quickly because it seems silly. And since I can't really find a problem associated with it to focus on I am working on just doing it. I think that as with the first, the fears are about trying to do or be my best and failing is not an option. A growing experience for sure and I would love to hear what others feel under the same situations... any ideas, notions, tricks?


Superintendent, Physical Medicine/Emergency Department
60 Medical Operations Squadron

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