Reach of resilience

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The vow to put service before self can sometimes promote the necessity of resilience. One Airman at Ramstein practices resilience every day to help guide Airmen to success.

As a career assistance advisor, Master Sgt. Etienne Tousignant, 86th Force Support Squadron, uses his life lessons to advise Ramstein Airmen on potentially life-changing decisions, both one-on-one and at professional development seminars.

Tousignant is responsible for helping develop more than 8,000 Airmen through individual counseling and advising commanders and superintendents on retention issues. With his reach, he is key to the development of front-line supervisors. By providing education on reenlisting and retraining opportunities, he ensures Airmen understand their benefits and entitlements. 

Through his role as a career advisor, Tousignant also aids the 86th FSS by assisting in the dissemination of personnel programs and new guidance to the base populace.

According to Staff Sgt. Myra Melendez, Ramstein Airman Leadership School instructor, Tousignant not only deals with Airmen on a one-on-one basis but also teaches the value of resilience through professional enhancement and informed decision seminars, and with the First Term Airman Center program.  

"Sometimes we have bad days that get us down," said Melendez.  "Tousingnant is a testament of not letting those bad days keep you down. He always bounces back and finds a way to turn negative situations into positive learning experiences. He humbly shares his story to remind Airmen that anyone, regardless of rank and age, can overcome hardships in life."

Tousignant had a rough start during his adolescence, which taught him the value of resilience and how to grow in the face of adversity. 

"I made a lot of bad choices, some criminal," he said. "I don't know what I did or said, but my parents and friends still believed in me. They still gave me opportunities to succeed. I now recognize that I can overcome adversity and that no major obstacle can't be overcome."

After a path on a downward spiral, Tousignant was able to use his life experiences to make him a person that can relate to people, he said.

"When people walk in, I can be empathetic," said Tousignant. "Everyone has potential, and I want to help. If I can't, I want to point them in the right direction."

Tousignant feels that his outreach has personally helped many Airmen to make positive change in their lives- some have thanked him for sharing his positive outlook.

"I have people approach me on and off base," he said.  "When they talk to me and tell me how advisory events have helped them, it motivates me to continue to help. I had someone tell me they stayed in the Air Force because of a seminar."

Tousignant plans to continue to share his outlook to remind Airmen that anyone, regardless of rank and age can overcome hardships in life.

"Whether I wear a uniform or not, I just want to continue to help people on any scale and be a part of a community that helps others," he said.