The Air Force they deserve

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan.—Personnel at McConnell Air Force Base are blessed to serve in a supportive, military-friendly community.

Whenever I am off the installation in uniform, I am constantly being thanked for my service. On several occasions, my lunch tab was picked up by an anonymous citizen in a gesture of thanks. I always respond with humility and gratitude because what the people outside our perimeter think about us matters, and it matters big time.

No one who has ever donned a military uniform took the easy road to get where they are today. Service requires sacrifice, selflessness and a willingness to put limits on our freedoms so our people can live free. This is the essence of service before self, and the people we defend recognize it. We owe them our very best.

Our people expect us to be honest, disciplined, law-abiding citizens. We are expected to do the right thing and own our mistakes if we fall short. We all hold a special public trust. Lying, cheating, illegal drug use, alcohol-related incidents, domestic violence and fraud, waste and abuse of resources are all enemies of trust. They are selfish endeavors, and there is no room for any of it. The Air Force is ours for safe keeping: Keep it, police it and make it stronger.

In order to maintain our Air Force and ourselves as Airmen, we must be physically, mentally and spiritually strong. Bad things may happen to you while you serve your country. If you stick around long enough, you may suffer illness, loss, injury or relationship difficulties, just to name a few.

As warriors, we have to be able to get up, get help, find a new normal and get back on the field. We must prepare for the bad and seek the good.

Service before self does not mean we need to neglect our health and families for our country. It means the opposite. Every day is an opportunity to build strength and cultivate the professional and personal relationships that matter most. Hit the gym, run, do push-ups and sit-ups. Care for your Airmen, be positive, have faith in your leadership and give your family the best version of you. Tell them you appreciate them. Take time to think and prepare.

If you do these things, I promise you will heal faster and thrive. Your country and your fellow Airmen are counting on you. You are special and directly tied to the national security of your country.

The private citizens in this community thank us because they trust us, and they see all of the good things about being a United States citizen in what you do for them. We cannot win without the support of our people, and we owe it to them to be the Air Force they deserve.