COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
I remember when I first entered the Air Force and arrived at my very first duty assignment after technical training. It was shortly after my arrival I started to see a lot of opportunities to volunteer and help across the wing.
Within days of my arrival, my very first supervisor walked into the office and asked, “Who would like an opportunity to excel?” I quickly raised my hand and said, “I will do it.”
That experience was judged very harshly by the more experienced Airmen in the room, with a stern “Don’t ever volunteer for anything.” I was very surprised by the direction given to me and wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. It took a while but I learned I had always raised my hand whenever they needed a volunteer. Due to my willingness to step up, regardless of what needed to be done, I was afforded the greatest opportunities to participate in some amazing events across the wing.
I know we have all heard it, and maybe even said it. “I need you to volunteer for something. Your Enlisted Performance Report is coming due and I need something to cover your community service.” I have seen it, time and time again. There are those who are reluctant to volunteer unless prodded to do so. The base puts out several calls for volunteers throughout the year. There are a select few who will give their time without hesitation and others who will turn and run the other way, hoping to not make eye contact and avoid being volun-told.
As your days in the Air Force grow, you find volunteering is not only essential to our daily activities but it’s what we do. It has a lasting impact on not only those who volunteer but also the lives of those who you may never actually know or meet. Most of the time it is the lives of those in the community around the base. They may need far more help or assistance than you will ever know. These individuals may have donated their time and money to events put on around the wing to benefit our own and never ask or demand anything in return.
Do not look at volunteering as something you have to do to get promoted or recognized. Instead, view it as an opportunity to show appreciation for what the community does in support of our great base and service. The requirements for evaluations has changed and the need for bullets for certain awards are no longer as demanding, but this does not mean the volunteer opportunities have decreased or disappeared.
A smaller pool of individuals continue to carry the torch for the wing, increasing the heavy demand on their time exponentially. Providing you time is still as critical as ever, but no longer the focus of what is required to get promoted or recognized. Many under the belief of it not being a requirement for promotion no longer wish to volunteer at all.
There is normally a high demand for volunteer support across the numerous organizations at both base and community levels. They are all selflessly providing support to those less fortunate this time of year. Hopefully you will be one of those willing to step up and provide a small but vital snippet of your time to them.
One thing you can do today to make yourself and those around you better is to volunteer freely, not because it’s required but because it’s what we do.