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I am a servant...and proud of it

  • Published
  • By Col. James "Slim" Morgan
  • 6th Operations Group commander
 Have you ever wondered why the military is called "the Service?" It is no accident. The members of the military have proven time and again that they are truly servants to their country, their community and the world.

I believe this description of the Service, and servicemembers, sets the standard that all of us should strive to attain. While "Service before Self " is a stated core value of the U.S. Air Force, I believe it is the foundation for all servicemembers in all military branches.

That said I also realize how the long hours, multiple deployments, challenging issues, family separations and sacrifices can start one doubting the worth of their service. With a mere 6% of the American population serving in the military, it can seem that we make no difference. After all, what can so few do? It is the rare servicemember who hasn't gone through this phase.

For me, it was when I hit 20 years and faced the decision of staying in or retiring. I looked at my accomplishments and balanced them against what I had put my family through. I was TDY for 9+ years of my first 20, my two oldest attended 3 high schools each, my youngest lived in 4 states before she turned 4, my wife gave up an established career, and I had missed countless holidays and family events. Sure, I had a successful career, and was doing what I loved. But I kept coming back to two questions: "Had it been worth it?" and "Was I making a difference?"

Since I hit 25 years in May, I obviously answered those questions in the positive. You need to know that servicemembers like you make a huge difference, even when you  don't see it. I need go no further than recent events in Haiti. Since the earthquake, over 325 relief missions have flown through MacDill and made a difference in the lives of thousands of people! You might ask, "How does my job matter?" It matters because our mission could not be accomplished without every member. Sure you won't impact every mission and your impact may be indirect, but what you do matters.

Take the 3-level in the DFAC who made the box lunches for the aircrew who flew the long missions...or the bus driver who took the AE crew from the hotel to the aircraft, so they, in turn, could go to Haiti and save lives...or the fuels technician who troubleshoots and repairs a leak and saves the mission...or the billeting reservationist who made sure the flight crew had rooms so they could get crew rest. I could go on, but my point has been made. You and I are servants who make a difference in the lives of many people...even those we will never meet!

Undoubtedly, you and your families will have to make sacrifices as you continue to serve. Sacrifice is a natural part of service. Think of anyone you respect for their service, you will see that they also made sacrifices: Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr, your first sergeant, your commander and yes, YOU.

So the next time you start wondering if what you do counts or if your sacrifices are worth it, just remind yourself that you have chosen to be in the service of the United States and what you do matters...what you do makes a difference...what you do is honorable and right...what you do is SERVE. I am honored to serve with you and I thank you for your service and sacrifice!