Enlisted voices: why I serve

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman James R. Collier
  • 48th Intelligence Squadron
Do you remember the day you joined the United States Air Force? The endless field of Airmen, guidons held high as they marched down the bomb run. The overwhelming feeling that, for the first time, you were a part of something bigger than yourself. You felt like the uniform you wore represented the nobility of sacrifice and duty to one's country. The Airman's Coin in your pocket became your most treasured possession. It symbolized the trials and tribulations you endured to be affiliated with the greatest air and space power the world has ever known.

There are many careers in the Air Force that provide an incredible sense of accomplishment. The mission, pride in a job well done, the rewards and the recognition drive Airmen to perform at the top of their game every day. However, not all careers are as gratifying as others. We may be tasked with slow, monotonous and seemingly unappreciated work because sometimes the mission requires it. In that environment it is far too easy to slip into a realm where your reason for joining may seem lost. We may begin to let frustration set in and let petty elements dictate our behavior.

Such situations force us to pose a question. Did we lose sight of why we chose to serve our nation? We enlisted for any number of reasons; patriotism, education, travel or even to escape a less than ideal situation, but the bottom line is always the same; we volunteered our time, and in some cases our lives, to answer the call of duty. We gain a sense of purpose every day when we put on our uniform. We develop relationships with our fellow Airmen; we are, in a sense, family. Yet some days we forget the big picture. We forget that we are the smaller part of the whole.

It is true that we do not get to pick our co-workers. It is true that sometimes our assignments are mundane and thankless. There are countless reasons that could cause us to stray from the path we have chosen. What separates us from the naysayers is our ability to reflect and rediscover the reason we are here. It is the affirmation of our choice that makes us who we are.

It is important to remember why we serve. Regardless of the adversity we face, we should hold on to the reason we took the first step. That reason enabled us to save lives every day. That reason has aided in the defense of the United States and its allies. It has provided us valuable skills and the opportunity to pursue a better education. It afforded us the chance to not only improve ourselves but the lives of others. So when the mission gets demanding, step back and remember. Think back to the people who shake your hand and thank you for your service. Recall your family's overwhelming sense of pride they feel when they see you. Reflect on the day you put on your blues and earned the right to be called an Airman in the world's greatest Air Force. Never lose sight of your reason.