SEAC visits Goodfellow

Command Sgt. Maj.William Gainey, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pumps out one push up at the base theater during his briefing on July 12. Command Sgt. Maj. Gainey visited Goodfellow Air Force Base as the special guest speaker for the Goodfellow NCO Academy graduation.  (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kamaile Chan)

Command Sgt. Maj.William Gainey, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pumps out one push up at the base theater during his briefing on July 12. Command Sgt. Maj. Gainey visited Goodfellow Air Force Base as the special guest speaker for the Goodfellow NCO Academy graduation. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kamaile Chan)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- To be honest, most of his audience didn't even know what he did for a living, other than to say he was a Soldier and he held some high position way up the chain of command.
However, by the end of his time spent at Goodfellow AFB, not only did most people understand what he did, they understood a lot more about the man himself and the beliefs to which he holds firm.

Command Sergeant Major William Gainey is the military's first Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The position he holds is a unique one in that he doesn't fall in any direct chain of command over the enlisted force. He works directly with the four service chiefs and reports to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "My job is simply to go out and find common issues between the services and bring those back to the chief," he said. "I'm your basic problem solver."

The position was created to advise the Chairman on matters of professional development of enlisted personnel for a joint environment. He came to the right place for that audience; if any base says "joint" it's Goodfellow.

His trip to the base was made possible through the Goodfellow NCO Academy. He was the guest speaker for the Academy's graduation event July 12. The Academy's commandant, CMSgt. Edy Agee, said his visit left a huge impression on the NCOs in attendance at the Academy's graduation dinner.

"SEAC Gainey's visit was one of the best we have ever had at the Goodfellow NCO Academy! For more than six weeks we cultivated the passion for leading in the 54 NCO graduates, but SEAC Gainey added lighter fluid to the flame. He is an out-front, servant leader who genuinely cares for our Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and family members," she said.

The chief said the feedback she received from his visit was incredible. "I have never attended an event where the guest speaker went out of their way in such a manner to personally recognize "every" family member in attendance, and thank them for their support. He coined every family member in attendance ... it was awesome. The looks on their faces was priceless. They knew he cared and felt his sincerity."

In addition, the command sergeant major held an open enlisted call in the base theater that same day. The audience was primarily made up of students from all branches of the military; right down Command Sgt. Maj. Gainey's alley.

He started off his discussion by letting Team Goodfellow know how important they are to the fight in the Global War on Terror. He admitted he had no idea how integral the intelligence community was to the war prior to arriving at Goodfellow and receiving an intel briefing from one of the students .

"You men and women are no less important than the ones pounding the ground in Iraq," he said. "I was always out there in the fight, without any thought to how we got there, or really how we knew where to go," he said. "It's extremely important the intelligence you gather and disseminate...we can't do our job without it."

That job has led him to numerous trips to Iraq. He is a hands-on type of leader; one who prefers to be in the fight rather than in a briefing room. "It's the only way I can bring back the reality of what our fighting men and women are really going through to the chief," he said. "You can't get the real story sitting in some room."

Command Sergeant Major Gainey emphasized there are only two types of people in today's military. "Type one are those who have gone into combat. And type two are those who will go into combat," he said. "Folks, we're in a long, hard fight and everyone will participate."

For some, watching the news about the war might make them feel unsettled about the images shown across televisions and the internet, the sergeant majored admitted. However, he offered this bit of advice when watching the news ... "digest the facts vs. what the media is trying to achieve for ratings purposes."

He continued his discussion by offering a simple way to navigate through life's challenges. Simply answer five questions.

"Whenever you are faced with a problem or something that seems challenging and you might find yourself wondering if you are doing the right thing, ask yourself these five questions:

1) Will this hurt anyone else?
2) Will this hurt me?
3) Is it illegal?
4) Is it immoral?
5) Will it bring disgrace to my family or my military service?"

He said if a person can answer 'no' to all five of these questions then they should press on with the challenge, be it to climb a mountain or deal with a personal issue.

More words of wisdom from the sergeant major were passed down to the audience. "Never, ever change who you are," he said. "Hold your head high and be proud of what you do."

He advised supervisors to always listen to their troops, to be credible and to be proud. "Pride is super contagious," he said.

Before he departed , Command Sgt. Major Gainey left his audience with a strong parting comment--"You are the people who give this country and its people their freedoms. You are people who give them the right to protest and spit on us. You do what less than one percent of this nation refuses to do--you defend your country," he said. "Always, always remember when people ask you what do for a living to hold your head up high, look them square in the eye and say with pride 'I'm in the military.'"