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Don’t speak service, help it happen

379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron commander's commentary.

746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron's commander's commentary


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Air Force, Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

In the military, we often speak of service.  One of the Air Force core values is “service before self”.  Our military and, in a broader sense, our nation needs men and women who are willing to truly serve others.  We often focus solely on service within the military.  Service to our country is one of the most noble and important means of service, but I would like to encourage everybody to look for opportunities to serve both inside and outside of our profession. Whether you plan on making the military a career or if you plan to separate after your commitment is up, I urge you to continue to serve.  There are opportunities and needs on the national, local and community level to make people’s lives better.  Find where you are needed and where you have capacity to help; and serve.

There are countless examples of selfless service.  One of my squadron’s missions at home is aerial firefighting.  We love the mission, because we can make an instant impact on people’s lives by saving homes and property.  We also get to meet some amazing people while doing the work.  It is truly incredible to see men and women walk out to meet a massive wildfire with nothing but a chainsaw and a shovel on their backs.  That is service.

Perhaps a more relatable and simpler example is a parent who seems to have unlimited energy and time to give to their children and community.  I think we have all known (or had) a parent who would work a full day, come home and take care of their family and then head out to a school board meeting or coach a practice, etc., etc.  I am continually in awe of the energy and capacity these types of people have to make the lives of those around them better.  That too is service.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” 

What I take from that quote is that you don’t have to be perfect in your service.  Energy and enthusiasm go farther than you can imagine when you are trying to make things better for those around you.  Identify a need to serve, jump in, and get to work.

In serving others there is no task too big or too small.  With the 24 hour news cycle, we are constantly inundated with bad news, but there are people out there doing truly remarkable things on a daily basis.  I ask you to join them.  Clean up a park.  Build a trail. Tutor a child.  Serve in the Guard or Reserve.  Run for Congress.  Whatever it is that you have the capacity to do and you enjoy doing….do it.  The military has given us all tools to lead.  Don’t leave those tools at the gate.  Go out and make things better.