ACC implements Diamond Care in support of First Sergeants

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dana Tourtellotte
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs

Air Combat Command is leading the charge in founding and implementing a Diamond Care initiative which supports the wellness, resiliency and training of first sergeants.

The launch of Diamond Care began with an authorization from the commander of Air Combat Command (COMACC) allowing first sergeants to put down their phones for four days to participate in this initiative at the beginning of 2023. Statistics from a subsequent survey of ACC First sergeants showed that this authorization positively impacted them.

“The first day is training,” said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Gradel ACC Command First Sergeant. “The rest of it is time with your family, partner, wife, husband, pets and kids. Time where you don't have to worry about being at your child's soccer game and getting a phone call.”

As a holistic initiative, Diamond Care is reshaping what it entails to be a first shirt from beginning to the end. It is creating changes in the processes of selection for the position, on and off-boarding, and adds resources in the form of comprehensive trainings, mental and physical health support, and optional wearable technology to assist first sergeants in monitoring their health and even predicting their future wellness. 

“We have never done anything like this before,” said Maj. Michael Vernale, Wing Director of Talent Management and Assessments at Fort Meade, Maryland. “These optional wearable smart watches and rings offer personalized passive engagement, that assist in monitoring stress levels and mental health which offers the opportunity to improve the life of the wearer and those they work with.” 

Another step in the direction of supporting wellness began the second week of March 2023, with the standardization of the first sergeant assessment and selection process during hiring. There will now be a more standard set of questions asked about the interviewee which will help to showcase how that person deals with adversity in their own lives, their workplace and their families. 

The assessment and selection process were designed in cooperation with the office of Talent Management Strategy and Program Design using the best practices outlined by the Office of Personnel and Management and the Society of Human Resource Management.

Part of the selection process is a mental health interview during hiring. Its purpose is to assist the Command Chiefs [Whom are the hiring officials for first sergeants] in better assessing strengths and attributes of candidates. It will also help to more effectively target types of training or resources that will be most helpful to support applicants throughout their time as first sergeants. 

“We're not saying do not hire this person,” said Gradel. “We are only going to provide data that enhances hiring capabilities by showcasing what the individual’s strengths and attributes are; that way you understand them better before hiring them. For instance, what tendencies are likely to come out during their time as a diamond, or not? Then based upon those tendencies, be they good, bad or indifferent, how can you improve upon them?”

There will be mandatory rest days, annual resilience check- ins, monthly training sessions and optional smart watches/rings for all first sergeants in ACC with the goal of making this an Air Force wide initiative for first sergeants. 
“First sergeants do a phenomenal job of taking care of others, but they often forget to take care of themselves,” said Chief Master Sgt. Bradford Cambra, Pacific Air Command First Sergeant at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. Cambra was part of a team across the enterprise who came to view the diamond care initiative and decided to implement in their MAJCOM.  

Diamond Care establishes a holistic and progressive standard of taking care of the people whose jobs are taking care of people, for the betterment of all.