Who deserves to serve?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Michelle Carns
  • 338th Training Squadron commander
Recently, Chief Master Sgt. Robert Winters, 338th Training Squadron, and I had a conversation with an Airman who expressed that he didn't feel he deserved to serve in the Air Force. He confessed to making a lot of mistakes during his time in technical training and although committed to improvement, he felt he wasn't worthy of service. We reassured him he is worthy of being in the Air Force for two reasons: he has met the measure of service and that deserving isn't part of that measure of service.

First, if the measure of service was "worth" and the minimum standard was "not making mistakes," then none of us would be eligible to serve. In spite of his errors, he hasn't made any so egregious that good order and discipline has been threatened, nor has he broken the law. The measure of a person's eligibility to serve the Air Force is based on our standards and operational needs; if you meet those standards and fulfill a need, you may serve.

Secondly, although the words deserve and serve only differ by two letters, "deserving" is a concept incompatible with service. We serve not because we do or don't deserve to, we serve because it is a calling--something we felt was right for us, for a variety of reasons. There isn't a test you can pass or fail prior to entry which measures who is more or less deserving of entering the service.

What we do deserve once in the Air Force, is to be surrounded by like-minded individuals whose actions reflect the core values and the tenets of the Airman's Creed. We do deserve a workplace made great through a culture of mutual respect, tolerance and equal opportunity. Furthermore, we do deserve to grow, learn and be part of a team that cheers us to our next success and supports us and our families through hardships. And, ultimately, through the very nature of service, we are changed into a warrior team whose character represents the very best of our nation and its values. If anything is deserved, it is our nation and its great causes that deserve our service.