Coming together to make a difference, the impact could reach farther than expected

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Mendoza
  • 22nd Mission Support Group commander
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Hal Moore once said, "Purpose is calling you from under rocks and in the hearts and souls of others.

Someone out there needs you more than you need them."

Most of us underestimate the impact we have on others and we often take for granted the things we do or accomplish and brush it off as just another day's work.

We're in the military and everything we do is just part of the job.

Our great institution, the U.S. Air Force, gives us a platform to do great things. Even the simplest of tasks could affect people in an enormous way, yet many of us are oblivious to those impacts. As leaders, we must continue to remind folks that we are making the difference every day to the lives of people we don't even know.

A few years ago, an overseas wing commander got a letter from a retired Army civilian employee telling him how impressed he was with an Airman stationed at his base (and in my squadron). This former Army employee was living some 7,000 miles away and happened to come across an article about an Airman stationed overseas who volunteered her time to organize a fundraiser to raise money and awareness supporting relief efforts for the earthquake that occurred in Haiti in 2010 that affected over 3 million people.

This 30-year retiree was impressed that a young airman first class would take the initiative and the time to impact people she never knew or met. It also impressed him that this Airman was not alone. She led a number of young Airmen from this base that came together for a good cause to make a difference for a country suffering from such a tragic disaster -- all organized and put together by these airmen on their own.

He stated that he understood that the impact of the money they raised, around $20,000, would never be truly known, but the actions speak volumes of the character and selflessness that our service continues to exemplify every day.

In this two-page handwritten note from this guy in a small town back in the U.S., he wanted to let us know, not only how proud he was of the young people in our Air Force today, but that there were other consequential impacts of these actions we needed to be aware of.

He showed this article to several young folks at the school he volunteered at. This started a conversation and ultimately impressed them enough that they wanted to join the Air Force too. He wrote to tell us that these individuals met with a recruiter and had enlisted.

What started out as a task to help people in Haiti, turned into life changing events to a few young adults from a small town. The chain of impacts from this one initiative, and one Airman, had begun. This is the power of your actions that goes beyond what we could ever grasp.

Our Airmen are on the forefront regularly and do phenomenal work daily. Moore believed that you have to find your purpose; and I believe as members of the U.S. Air Force, we already have, and are making the difference to lives around the world and don't even know it. I'm inspired by your sense of professionalism, willingness to serve, and your commitment to excellence.

As you come into work every day, day in and day out, be thinking of what your story will be or what Public Affairs will write about you. Who knows how far a story about one Airman can go.