Elizabeth “Liz” McLean graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and obtained a master's degree in industrial organizational psychology. She spent five years as a logistics readiness officer, separating at the rank of O-3. At the end of 2010, when Liz separated from the Air Force, she set a personal and professional goal to support veterans transitioning to the civilian side. Her passion and hobby is the Ironman Competition and training. Liz is a wounded warrior and a military spouse who devotes countless hours on military outreach to veterans in career transition.
I met my husband in Calculus class 13 years ago when we were both freshmen at the Air Force Academy. I was 18 and he was 19, and I remember him being as stoic as anything. He is the only person I dated in my life. We dated throughout our time at the Academy, were engaged our junior year, legally married the day after graduation so we could be stationed with each other, and then had our ceremony a few months later in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was the party to be remembered forever.
I will be honest, I would consider some of the enlisted I worked with in the past, my closest friends in the world. As a 22-year-old second lieutenant placed immediately in charge of 120 enlisted, I learned that if I carried my rank like a chip on my shoulder, my career as an officer would end quickly. I figured out rather quickly that if you take care of those who work for and with you, and respect them as the individual contributors that they are, the team dynamics are much more likely to be a success. This isn’t to say that rank does not have its place, because without the hierarchy, mass chaos would ensue when it came to orders being executed. But, people are more likely to listen to orders if they know that the leader has their best interest at heart. Ideally, this is how a civilian organization should be run as well. I remind myself of this daily.