Dragon Corner: being a volunteer and Wingman

  • Published
  • By Patrick Myers
  • 334th Training Squadron
When was the last time you volunteered your time and/or services? Who did it affect? What was the impact? You may never know the answer to these questions; however, that shouldn't keep you from giving of yourself. Volunteering can happen at every level and the impact can literally last a lifetime.

By definition, volunteer means "to give (something) without being forced to or without getting paid for it." As Air Force members, the opportunities to volunteer are limitless. It may be as simple as a uniform check, explaining an LES to a recent BMT graduate, or helping a fellow Airman with a detail. You may also find yourself giving up your seat to an elderly person or possibly helping a retiree out of his or her car. These are just some examples of what it means to give of yourself, and it doesn't stop there. What about community involvement? Have you given some of your time to help those less fortunate? Did you offer your services at the local church, school, or civic event? More importantly, was it done without expecting something in return?

At a time when we are surrounded by sounds of stratification, downsizing, and cutbacks, we are still expected to give of ourselves. Our culture requires us to look to and for individuals who consistently give of themselves, both on- and off-duty. As Airmen, it's inherent to our Core Values that we continue to do so. The Airman's Creed states, "I am an American Airman. Wingman, Leader, Warrior." As a Wingman, you share a bond with other Airmen and you can be counted on to support each other in all situations. As a leader, you support, explain and promote decisions. And as a warrior, you will stay until the mission is complete, no matter how difficult the task. This philosophy can be applied to almost every undertaking, especially when offering assistance to those around us.

Look around you; notice those individuals who go the extra step. There are no expectations or hidden agendas. It's done because we are Airmen and want to see others succeed.

In the training environment, it's easy to identify those who excel academically; simply look at the scores. Several courses offer the Top or Distinguished Graduate Program. It is an incentive for students to succeed, however there is more to it than that. While we place emphasis on academic excellence and recognize those who excel, it's the "whole-person concept" that sets them apart. We also consider what they've done outside the classroom walls. It's giving of themselves that makes the difference.

As Wingman, we should step up to the plate without expecting recognition. Sure, it's great to receive kudos and accolades, but that's not why we do it. We take the time to help a struggling Airman because they're part of the team. We invest our time and energy with the local community because it strengthens our bond. We work together as a cohesive team to achieve our goal(s) and overcome adversities together. That's what giving of yourself (volunteering) is all about.

No matter how big or small, the time spent giving to others is invaluable. We are surrounded by opportunities everywhere we go. This includes going "beyond the fence" by helping your local neighborhoods and residents. When it presents itself, take the time to become involved. Mentor an Airman, judge a science fair, or hide Easter eggs for Keesler's children. Spend time on your unit's "Adopt-a-Roadway" program or visit someone in the Armed Forces Retirement Home. You represent the United States Air Force every single day; make a point to give of yourself.

You may never be formally recognized for your efforts, but the feeling of satisfaction is unparalleled. The smile on a child's face, a heartfelt salute from a veteran, or an ecstatic young Airman who finely mastered a task will say it all.

We do these things because that's our way of life. We live by our Core Values; they define our standards of conduct and who we are. Practice good Airmanship, be a Wingman, become a volunteer. The rewards are priceless.