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Maintaining perspective

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A military Airman's life, whether it be a uniformed or civil service member, can be extremely hectic. It becomes easy to fall into the overwhelming day-to-day routine and lose sight of what we do, particularly for members who are not deployed. We come to work every day and perform what appear to be very routine tasks. However, we must keep our jobs in perspective. The key is not the individual work that is being performed. Instead, it is how that work fits into the big picture. What exactly is the big picture?

While speaking with an insightful Captain not long ago, we engaged in a discussion involving many subjects, to include perspective. The young Captain and I had similar beliefs and he brought to my attention an issue of concern regarding today's Airmen. The troubling issue is that many of our Airmen have completely lost perspective. In other words, many have lost sight of the big picture - how our individual contributions combine to achieve the goals of the overall Air Force vision. Since that day, I have made a conscious effort to do my part in helping the Airmen I encounter regain this perspective as it is an important element necessary to achieve our three core values - Integrity First, Service before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.

Let's examine the jobs we perform. How many times have you been asked, "What do you do?" More importantly, how do you answer that question? Although the tasks we perform may seem ordinary, we do not have ordinary jobs. Some may answer the question by stating their occupation. They may reply with phrases such as, "I'm a knowledge operations manager" or "I'm a client systems technician." While others here at Vandenberg with a bigger picture view may say, "I help launch rockets into space." While all of these statements are true, these replies do not answer the initial question. Instead, they detail how we accomplish our goal, but do not address the specific question: What do you do?

I submit the answer to that question is a simple one. What we do, both uniformed and civil service members alike, is support and defend the Constitution of the United States. In fact, we have all taken an oath to do so and this is the perspective we need to maintain as all of the duties we perform each day should support that goal. Acknowledging and understanding that statement is the first step in re-establishing the perspective that is missing in many of today's Airmen.

I make a conscious effort to know my oath. Not simply to memorize the words, but to internalize what the words actually mean. Each enlisted, officer, and civilian Airman takes an oath when they enter military or federal service. When is the last time you have reviewed your oath? If you haven't reviewed your oath since you entered military or federal service or since the last special occasion when it was appropriate to recite the oath after another, perhaps you should revisit it to have a clear understanding of its meaning and establish what it means to you personally.

My Oath of Office is very special to me and I sincerely feel that if you embody the words of your oath, you will re-establish your perspective and have a different outlook on the unique position we have as Air Force Airmen. That perspective is what keeps me motivated and happy to come to work each and every day.

The bottom line is: No matter what challenges the day may bring, I am proud to work for the best Air Force in the entire world and to have a direct role in supporting the Constitution of the United States.