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To care is to lead

Airman’s attitude inspires others

TSgt Chankrisna Chim, 62nd Medical Squadron public health NCOIC, examines SSgt Malcom Belton during a health check-up. Photo credit: SrA Mikayla Heineck

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TSgt Chankrisna Chim personifies the four- letter word care.

"I have had subordinates in the past come to me regarding their personal struggles" the Non-commissioned Officer-in-Charge of the 62nd Airlift Wing's McChord Clinic, began his email.

As the clinic's NCOIC, he oversees daily operations related to deployment medicine and occupational health care.

"I always make myself available to hear their stories and feelings. I am able to use my past experiences to help guide them and make sure that they are okay."

Growing up in a dysfunctional family, Chim endured difficult times. When he was very young, his father married another woman after separating from his mother. 

"His new wife was both verbally and physically abusive to me until they separated when I was in middle school," the native of Lowell, MA explained. "And when I ran away from home, I was sexually assaulted by a family friend of my father's wife."

With the dissolution of his father and step-mother's marriage, Chim stayed with his father in order to care for him.

My father became ill which caused me to grow up really fast so that I could help take care of him," he explained.

"He was in my life to make sure I had food, a roof over my head, but was very abusive to me emotionally, physically and mentally."

While still in middle school, he reconnected with his biological mother and her side of the family.

"I felt the burden of the world lifted off of my shoulders," continued Chim. "She was my biggest supporter; she attended all the events in my life - track meets, high school graduation, my initial oath swearing-in to the Air Force - which meant the world to me."

While serving at his first duty station, Chim's mother passed away. After learning that his father was spreading rumors about him, Chim ended their relationship.

"Not having a father and my mother's passing made it difficult for me to keep living, and I often thought about harming myself," he said.

Chim's ideation about suicide grew, and at his second duty station his supervisor pulled him into his office and told him to seek mental health.

"His care ... saved me from making the permanent decision of taking my own life," he explained.

In early 2020 as the COVID pandemic began to grip the globe, Chim's caring actions provided an example of leadership.

With numerous individuals and organizations from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord community, he co-lead the base's COVID-19 response.

"Our department has and continues to assist Army Preventive Medicine through contract tracing of COVID positives in our Air Force population (active duty, dependents and Reservists)," he explained.

In recognition of his efforts, Chim was named the 62nd AW NCO of the Quarter, the 1st Quarter of 2020 and Team McChord's NCO of the Year for 2020, and the USO Pacific Northwest's Air Force Service Member of the Year for 2020.

"I believe that in order to be an effective leader you need to be able to show others that you genuinely care for them."

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