PME, a life altering, eye opening event Published Aug. 11, 2008 By Col. Jim Reagan Maintenance Group Commander August 2008 -- I recently had the distinct honor and pleasure to attend the Senior NCO Academy Graduation at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. I did so at the invitation of Master Sgt. Chuck Wasnich, a member of the Class 08-D. It was a very prestigious event with over 300 members in the class. There was a formal dinner in the evening with General Norton Schwartz, the interim Air Force Chief of Staff as the guest speaker. It was a great evening and certainly a program I will never forget. What was most impressive was not the largely attended crowd for the speech by the General but the energy you could feel from all of the new graduates. They had just completed a rigorous academic, physical and emotional seven-week in-residence course. You would think they would be tired and ready to return home, but there was this element of excitement. The Air Force spirit had been reinvigorated and I am sure all felt a great deal of satisfaction and accomplishment. I asked Master Sgt. Wasnich if he would do it all again and he said "absolutely." Professional Military Education for the military is a career building step just as an advanced degree or continuing education classes are for other professions. It refocuses us on our duties and responsibilities as Airman and broadens our perspective on how we accomplish our mission. When I was a young airman, I was trained that for the most part, everything in the Air Force was cut and dry and that was my perspective as a young Crew Chief. As I progressed in my career, it became more obvious that everything we do has a ripple effect on many other agencies and personnel. PME helped me understand that. Whether Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff, or Air War College, they all build on each other. The whole story seemed to tie together toward my last course. It changed the way I looked at problems and the way I viewed the world as a whole. I am positive it's the same for Airman Leadership School, NCO Academy or Senior NCO Academy. They are life changing events. I understand not everyone can attend in-residence PME like Master Sgt Wasnich. But if you can, go for it. Ask anyone who has ever attended in-residence and they will tell you it is a life altering, eye opening event. One option that is available to everyone is to complete courses by correspondence. Although not quite fulfilling as in-residence, they are just as rich with history and tradition while blended with new ideas and thought processes. If you would like more information on PME or would like to enroll, please see your supervisor or Unit Training Manager.