Mentoring through J.E.T. Fuel

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Breonna Veal
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
"You are afforded privileges not awarded to others, and you have freely accepted responsibility beyond the call of normal duty," as stated in the senior non-commissioned officer creed. "You have not merely been promoted one pay grade; you have joined an exclusive group--A group dedicated to taking care of those who follow in their footsteps."

After more than  20 years of military service, Headquarters Air Combat Command Common Data Link Systems deputy chief, Master Sgt. Brian Potvin, has taken those words and created a way to mentor and guide Airmen who are willing to just read an email.

Created in March 2014, Judgment, Experience, Training Fuel, or J.E.T. Fuel, Volume 1, Issue 1, was sent to a small group of Potvin's coworkers for a simple mentoring session.

"Chief Master Sgt. Sam Johnson introduced me to the concept of J.E.T. as something we all gain from our careers," said Potvin. "You gain a little bit of judgment, a little more experience, and training as time goes by. It is our part as senior NCOs and leaders to pass on that JET to the junior Airmen because one day they are going to replace us after we retire."

Potvin started J.E.T. Fuel as way for Airmen in the lower tiers to ask career-focused questions they may be too nervous to ask their direct leadership about.

"Although I did not have something like JET Fuel when I was a junior enlisted Airman, I wondered if I could pass on my knowledge the same way another retired chief had while I was a technical sergeant," said Potvin. "After years of considering it and seeing if I could actually do it, I decided to create my own newsletter."

Potvin created the newsletter because he had a story to tell.

"One of the first JET Fuel's I wrote involved a past experience which had unintended consequences that later shaped me into the Airman I am now," explained Potvin. "At the time I had 16 years invested in to the Air Force and I became unmotivated. The Chiefs that I worked with encouraged me to use my experiences to have a positive impact on others. Because of their influence I was able to get past that hurdle. I try to draw on the experiences I have had throughout my career for each issue of my newsletter."

After sending a few newsletters out, Potvin quickly received positive feedback from both Airmen at Langley Air Force Base and around the world. 

"Every month, I get several emails and phone calls from Airmen who acknowledge they are receiving my emails," said Potvin.  "In February, the Air Education Training Command chief, Command Chief Master Sgt. Gerardo Tapia sent my newsletter out to all the command chiefs in AETC which in return got me more positive feedback about my newsletter.   Last month, Chief Master Sgt. Steve McDonald, ACC Command Chief did the same thing which gave me even more feedback from Airmen across the globe to include U.S. Air Forces Central Command, Germany and Alaska."

Potvin believes that as a senior NCO his job goes beyond mission accomplishment. He strives to achieve the Air Force mission by ensuring his subordinates are happy and motivated through his newsletter, which in turn has become a form of mentorship.

"Although J.E.T. Fuel is not necessarily one-on-one mentoring, I still see the affect it has on the Airmen who read it," Potvin concluded. "I hope my newsletter is having a positive influence as far as big Air Force goes. One thing I learned over the years is, it's not about the number of stripes you have on your sleeve; it's about the number of Airmen you affect over the years. At the end of the day, it won't matter if I make senior master sergeant or chief master sergeant. The motivation I have now isn't to receive the next rank; it is to increase my realm of experience to in return, positively motivate all Airmen."