By Staff Sgt. J. Aaron Breeden
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The smell of hot coffee, bacon and eggs filled the dining room at the Aragon Dining Facility as former Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James McCoy, along with his wife Kathy, sat and enjoyed breakfast with 19 Team Pete Airmen March 26. While the mood was lighthearted and the conversation sprinkled with smart and witty quips from the former CMSAF, McCoy’s continued passion and love for the Air Force was evident throughout his message.
McCoy, the sixth chief master sergeant of the Air Force, emphasized the need for continued growth and improvement as a military professional and how that responsibility lies within each Airman.
“We’ve gotta make (tuition assistance) a high priority,” said McCoy, who used TA to finish his own degree. “My advice is to do everything you can to be at that ‘upper level.’”
Airmen working to better themselves can reach this ‘upper level’ by completing their CCAF degree, completing college courses through the CLEP and DANTES programs and also through PME.
Additionally, McCoy spoke about the importance of continuing professional military education and how in-residence PME benefits Airmen much more than online courses.
McCoy also spoke of his hopes that the Air Force is able to continue the professional development of our enlisted force. “I’m very vocal about that and I’ll continue to be vocal about that,” he said.
McCoy, who currently lives in Omaha, Neb., retired from the Air Force in 1981 and stressed the importance of preparing early for anyone who will be retiring or separating from the Air Force.
“There is life after the military,” said McCoy. “When people look to hire, they look to people like you.”
The quality of your background and experience is what employers are looking for, he added.
He emphasized the importance of retirement planning and that it should begin years rather than weeks in advance. This planning McCoy was referring to is the transition assistance program.
TAP is available to Airmen planning to separate or retire from the Air Force and includes a basic résumé workshop, techniques for interviewing and job searching, along with invaluable seminars during the week-long course.
McCoy’s passion for the continued excellence of his Airmen during breakfast was just as fierce as it was during his years as an active duty member.
When McCoy first stepped into the role of CMSAF, he worked with recruiters to enlist the right people into the Air Force, fighting to improve the professional military education system across the enlisted spectrum. Additionally, during McCoy’s term as CMSAF, the Stripes for Exceptional Performers program was instituted to provide incentive and an alternate promotion option for enlisted members.
At the end of the meal, McCoy, who served in an era when the military was less appreciated, closed with a message of encouragement.
“We didn’t enjoy the ‘Thank Yous’ in airports like you get today,” McCoy said. “And I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that people recognize your efforts.”