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A reflection of service

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- As Veteran's Day approaches, I contemplated what the day means to me and kept coming back to the concept of "service." At a macro level, I focused on what it means to be a member of the Armed Forces and the heroes, family, friends and coworkers past and present who have answered a higher calling in support of the various branches of service.

At an intermediate level, my thoughts shifted to the expectations outlined in the core value of "Service Before Self." Finally, at a micro level, I revisited what the Vandenberg community should expect from me and my team of experts in terms of financial management customer service?

If you're like me, odds are you've had at least one relative who served in the armed forces; very possibly, you may be continuing a legacy as the 3rd or 4th generation in your family who took the oath in service to our great nation. Going back no further than my dad, uncles and cousins, we have every branch of service covered, accounting for tours in Korea, Vietnam and other locations across the globe. The experiences they had and stories they passed along forged a lasting memory in my mind of a great adventure and opportunity while serving a cause greater than themselves. However, as we've seen the gradual personnel drawdowns over the past couple decease, I realized that our children and future generations won't have the abundance of service-related family connections, so it's even more important we carry the torch and tell our stories to as many as we can.

At the intermediate level, within the AF, the recent fiscal challenges demand a mindset shift and level of analysis well beyond what we have come to expect with the budgets. But these are a different set of circumstances we face than what we encountered early in our careers or what our predecessors faced. The greatest asset we have to help overcome these challenges is our human capital. I continue to see the "Service Before Self" played out every day and know that the bright, new minds entering the service will impress us time and again to get us through this "new normal." I have no doubt that we will step up as we have in every other crisis and find unique and creative ways to rise to the occasion and solve these difficult problems.

At the micro level, as a customer service organization, my team and I are charged with providing the installation with the absolute best service for arguably the most critical resource spanning both personal and institutional concerns--every person's pay and wing's budget. We're transitioning civilian pay timekeeping systems, undergoing monthly audit reviews to meet Congressionally-mandated deadlines for audit readiness, and accomplishing various other Financial Management initiatives in addition to the budget challenges mentioned above. Our staff of financial managers is a strong team of great professionals managing these tasks and providing the level of service you deserve and should have come to expect from the Money Hawk$. With the numerous vital resources at stake, we must be on the mark in meeting--exceeding--those requirements and expectations.

I close with the following questions to consider: What comes to mind for you when considering "Service" in terms of your unit's mission and how you fit into the success of your unit, your critical role in the Total Force construct, and ultimately the unique perspective you--and those closest to you--have in the rich history of service to the nation?