What makes us continue to serve?

Lt. Col. Mike J. Misenhimer
435th Mission Support Squadron commander

***image1***We have all been asked, “Why did you join the Air Force?” For most of us we can give a fairly simple answer. I would venture to guess it had something to do with serving our country, as well as some type of personal benefit, such as an education, a job skill or a specific opportunity. But having served 18 years, I’ve come to realize the more important question is, “Why make the Air Force a career?”

I joined to further my education courtesy of Uncle Sam, to do my patriotic duty and, after gaining four years experience, to land a great job in the civilian world.

So what changed? What made me stay?
Without a doubt, it has been the Airmen I’ve been associated with – the officers, enlisted and civilians.

We’ve all faced challenges in the Air Force we believed to be difficult. I’ve faced many and overcome each one. How did I get through it?

There was always someone there to help me who made the difference. Their assistance supported my success.

I am sure everyone can think of a military training instructor, an assistant professor of aerospace studies, a first sergeant, commander, peer, mentor or officemate who was there to assist them.

These Airmen are men and women who are strong – physically, mentally and emotionally.

These Airmen have learned the value of being part of a team and to commit to something larger than themselves.

These Airmen instill our core values – Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence In All We Do – and they do not pass these values on in some lecture or briefing.

These Airmen pass them on by living them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Without these Airmen, none of us would be as successful as we are today.

It’s been said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Every time you successfully face and deal with a significant challenge, you gain experience and confidence, and you’ll eventually look back on your challenges with strong memories. You will forge friendships through the trials of fire and will never forget the hurdles you overcame to get where you are. Most significant is that, through the Air Force, you will meet and befriend some of the finest Americans our nation has ever produced – our Airmen.

These Airmen will impress you with their loyalty and commitment to excellence, regardless of the challenges or demands they face. They are the reason the Air Force is a great organization to work for. So, if you are on your first tour of duty, know that the people you work with and meet are those Airmen who will help answer the question, “Why make the Air Force a career?” As for the rest of us, we already know this, because we are one of those Airmen.