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Overcoming your defeat

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Christine Kibler
  • 379th Expeditionary Medical Group
Throughout my Air Force career, I have had the opportunity to share experiences and career stories with many different Airmen. I hear stories reaffirming why I chose to serve and continue to serve our great nation. I also hear experiences or reasons why our people move forward. With all these stories and experiences, I have concluded that there is one common denominator: defeat.

Defeat means different things to different people; regardless of how it is perceived, it creates a barrier in the personal and professional lives of our Airmen. It keeps them from reaching their pinnacle of success.

Some experiences I often hear of are how members are set back in their career by family situations, personal events, negative performance evaluations, poor supervisors or disciplinary actions they have endured. I am often amazed by how long people hold on to the events robbing them of a successful career. I think Maya Angelou said it best, "I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it." Most people experience negative events in their lives, some are out of their control while others are due to poor choices. So, how do you move forward?

Having experienced obstacles like discrimination and the loss of a parent early in my career, I can only share with others how I chose to overcome them. The first step, and probably the most challenging for me, was to accept them, only then was I able to focus on the future. I learned a lot from those events and it made me a stronger leader.

Wendell Phillips said, "What is defeat? Nothing but education, nothing but the first step to something better." The will to overcome defeat lies with each individual. It's a personal choice. I am amazed at the sense of determination in some Airmen we serve with today, and I will share one example.

During my time as a First Sergeant, I had an Airman who was kidnapped from her home and forced to endure things only the darkest imagination could foresee. She was traumatized emotionally and physically, but her life was spared. Shortly after the incident, I realized I had not only encountered a survivor, but I had the opportunity to serve with an Airman who had a spirit of determination to see past this horrible experience and the hope to enjoy a promising career ahead.

The Airman was moved to another base for her protection, but I can still remember her requesting to stay longer to wrap up programs and provide a thorough turnover to her supervisor.

I witnessed the courage of this Airman who embodied the Air Force core values, but more importantly to me, I saw the true meaning of determination, faith and hope to overcome defeat. This outstanding Airman still continues to serve our great nation, and I would serve with her anytime, anywhere.

I have also had the privilege to support the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group's Intra-Theater Care Program. Through this experience, I have had the opportunity to meet many different members of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. This is the first time I have had the honor to work with all these outstanding men and women from every branch of service. Some of them have faced obstacles head on while downrange. Many of them have told me about friends they have lost to IEDs and how many times routine patrols turned bad within seconds. One member told me his first stop when he returns from deployment will be to visit the mother of a friend he lost.

Although many of them have experienced battle directly or indirectly, the majority of them count the days until they are released from medical care so they can return to their units downrange.

Some would proudly go with stitches if they could.

So, when obstacles confront you face on, know the choice is yours. You can either let these situations rob you of your joy or you can face them, accept them, and make the choice to move forward -- this is your future. Be proud of your contributions to our great nation.