Who do you owe, why are you here

  • Published
  • By Col. Jason Eitutis
  • 22nd Medical Group commander
My story about joining the U.S. Air Force is a selfish one. When I finished completing my undergraduate and master’s degrees, I simply needed a job. I had mounting student loans from graduate school and bills that needed to be paid.

Many of my family members had served in the armed forces and my brother was an Air Force public health officer. He encouraged me to apply for a commission in the Medical Service Corps. The transition seemed natural. My plan was to come in, do an assignment or two and separate.

But, after the first few assignments, my desire to remain in the Air Force began to grow. I was repeatedly blessed with great leaders to work for and Airmen to work alongside. Many individuals invested in my professional development, and more importantly, they invested in me as a person -- they simply cared. I just couldn’t walk away from an environment fostering that.

No one invests in leadership like the military does. Corporations will invest in you to become more productive or improve profit margins, but very few invest in your ability to become a more effective leader.

The ability to lead and become a more effective leader is what has kept me in the Air Force for the last 21 years. Opportunities such as professional military education and professional development are cornerstones in what makes us different than civilian corporations. Don’t take such opportunities for granted; run directly at them and use them as growth opportunities.

Often in life, especially in the Air Force, we don’t get things accomplished without the help of others. Who has helped you, and who is counting on you? Who believes in you? Who thinks you had potential and will be disappointed if you fail? These are the people you owe. I owe a lot of people -- too many to name. Don’t let them down. They are counting on you -- deliver.

Why are you here? Is it because you simply needed a job as I did? Or do you have a desire to serve your country, defend our constitution, freedoms and be part of something larger than yourself?

Not everyone is given the opportunity to serve our country; some simply don’t qualify or make the cut. You’ve been given a great opportunity to be part of something larger than yourself. Hopefully your definition of why you are here is definitive and gives you resounding purpose.

If it is not, I ask you to do some self-reflection.

My mindset certainly has changed over the years, from just needing a job to a deep desire to serve our country and do something bigger than myself.