An Airman's uniform hanging on a locker.
Cover Image courtesy of Terry Hemmitt

Black Perspectives #24: Terry Hemmitt (United States Air Force)

I wanted to include a member of our military in these interviews, and I’m glad my high school classmate Terry Hemmitt was available for today. He was always focused & dedicated back when we hung out and played sports together for a brief period, and I’m glad to see nothing’s changed. Check out this Airman’s Black Perspective.

Introducing: Terry Hemmitt

SSD: Jumping right in, tell me a bit about yourself and what you do.

TH: First and foremost, I’m a family man; they’re the key to everything I do. Whether it’s my immediate, extended, or friends that have become brothers & sisters, they are at the core of who I am and what I’m about.

I’m an Airman that serves the United States Air Force and this nation as a Chief Master Sergeant. It’s the highest enlisted rank, and I’m charged with mentoring & developing junior enlisted personnel and guiding the development of officers.

Last, but not least, I’m a Black man, and as such, it is important to me to be involved and engaged in the communities I’m part of because I know how much representation matters and the positive impact it can have on all.

CMSgt Hemmitt at his promotion ceremony.

SSD: What do you hope to eventually accomplish as you continue in the Air Force?

TH: Now that I’m in a place mentally where I no longer feel like I need to survive, I can focus my energy on thriving and helping others do the same. Therefore, the goal is to both develop others to be the best versions of themselves, motivating them towards opportunities that fulfill their purpose, while simultaneously working to remove any actual or perceived barriers that prevent our Air Force and Airmen from being as great as we can be.

SSD: What misconception(s) about serving in the military do you wish civilians understood better?

TH: The biggest one I’ve encountered and feel the need to address constantly is that we’re part of the community and society, too. We care about what’s going on around the country and the world, we have similar concerns about various issues that Americans face. We have a job to do, a calling to answer, but we do not exist or operate outside of the society that we and/or our families & friends live in.

SSD: What inspired you to get into what you’re doing?

TH: After realizing firsthand the expensiveness of going to college and the difficulty in working a full-time job while attending, I decided to go another way. [The] Goal was to learn a marketable skill, get an education, and earn a paycheck at the same time so I could help my Granny financially. That led me to look into joining the military and, after some research, I decided [the] Air Force was best for me.

Once I completed the aptitude exams, I picked careers that I was qualified for that would teach me a skill that could easily transition to the civilian sector if or when I decided to get out of the military. So, long story short… Granny.

A younger Terry and his Granny

SSD: What’s a tip that you’d give someone who sees you, is inspired, and wants to follow in your footsteps — especially a Black person??

TH: Regardless of race, my tip for anyone would be to discover their “why”. Their reasoning and purpose for doing whatever they decide to do with their life. My “why” has been the one thing that’s been consistent and motivates me no matter how great or difficult things are in a moment. Ask yourself, what gets you excited to get out of bed in the morning and endure all that the world has to throw at you? Good chance the answer is or will be closely related to your “why”. Once you identify that, create the path that allows you to begin your journey.

For someone that’s Black, I would encourage them to remain focused and not be deterred by obstacles that they’ll inevitably be faced with. Remain patient, and don’t become the person that those around them would like to paint them as.

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Created by Alex Volkov