Awards Program (Ref: AFI 36-28XX series; 15 ABW Instruction 36-2801)
Purpose: This goes without saying. Awards are a way of recognizing superior performance. They’re a way of saying “thanks” for a job well done.
Unit-level awards: These can range from technician of the quarter to Airman of the Year. Specific eligibility for each award and nomination procedures vary by organization. These are typically the easiest types of awards to process – take full advantage of them.
Wing-level awards: Categories include Airman, NCO and Sr. NCO, in addition to CGO and Civilian. Nominees are considered on the “whole person” concept, including leadership and job accomplishments, significant self-improvement, leadership qualities, “other” accomplishments and how they present themselves as an articulate and positive representative of the Air Force.
Career-field specific awards: These awards are presented to outstanding performers in most career fields. Levels of award are essentially MAJCOM and Air Force.
Special Awards and Trophies: Several special awards programs are in place. Some are sponsored by national-level organizations. See the specific AFI 36-28XX for eligibility and submission criteria.
Things to remember when submitting someone for an award:
Don’t do it for the sake of doing it! There must be a specific reason why you’re nominating someone for an award. If not, the program becomes “diluted” and can turn into a “it must be my time to be nominated” situation.
Be honest with your subordinates. Explain to them how they can become competitive. Today’s award-winners really do earn top marks in all the categories.
Quantify wherever possible. If a dollar savings is involved, state the value; if time is saved, express it in terms of man-hours or percentage of improvement.
Avoid jargon. Imagine you are someone with absolutely no understanding of the person’s duties and responsibilities. Does the award package paint a clear picture?
Write the award, re-write it and re-write it again. Your nominee MUST stand head and shoulders above the competition to win. The stronger you can make the package, the better the chance of success.
Why awards are important: Explain to your subordinates that awards are one of the few ways we can separate the outstanding from the average. Awards carry considerable weight later in their career (especially when their records are reviewed) and they should seek out every opportunity to compete for applicable awards.