Commentary

August 9, 2013

Serving in AF equals opportunity

Maj. JASON MITCHELL
56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

While some may view their time in the Air Force as drudgery, I have always viewed the Air Force as an organization that offers unlimited opportunity. I could discuss multiple Air Force benefits such as education, health care or retirement, but instead I will focus solely on opportunity.

Merriam-Webster defines opportunity as a favorable juncture of circumstances or a good chance for advancement or progress. The Air Force provides extraordinary opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Operationally speaking, opportunity can often be disguised as adversity. Deployments, exercises and inspections can test Airmen physically and mentally. Yet, they are all opportunities to make a positive impact. Often operational requirements impact families the most, and as Airmen we often wonder how we’ll get through these challenges. Throughout my career despite these challenges, I have always come through them with a sense of accomplishment and pride for successfully completing the mission. Leading and solving complex problems in the operational environment is an opportunity afforded to every Airman.

When given the opportunity to attend officer or enlisted professional military education, do you view it as something you need to just get through? PME provides opportunities to learn, engage in critical thinking and develop as an Airman. Give it your all and take something positive from the experience that the Air Force has given you.

The same can be said about fitness and your physical fitness test. Since moving away from the bike test approximately ten years ago, the Air Force has put the appropriate emphasis on fitness for readiness and health purposes. Do you view the fitness test as something you try to just pass or do you give it your all and achieve the best score you can? The Air Force provides multiple opportunities to enhance your physical fitness through classes at the base fitness center and health and wellness center.

Additionally, the Air Force as an organization recognizes individual achievement and superior scores on the fitness assessment equaling a healthy, able-bodied Airman. What civilian organizations do that?

I have had the opportunity to visit more than 20 countries while deployed, on temporary duty assignments and on leave. I would have never had these opportunities without serving in the Air Force. Experiencing a different culture or living overseas can be truly life changing. Further, by being an Air Force member I have had the opportunity to serve with fellow Airmen from different races, backgrounds and religions. This has enhanced my ability to solve problems and has given me a different perspective on how I view situations. The Air Force truly is a community and family and difficult to replicate in the civilian world.

I talk to Airmen who wish to separate after a single assignment. I encourage those who are contemplating separation to change stations and view the Air Force from the perspective of a different installation. Further, if you seek a change from your current specialty code, before separating look into cross training or competing for a highly selective special-duty assignment.

Lastly, take time to think about the opportunity to serve our country, a responsibility for which millions of Americans are eternally grateful. Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population is in the military so take advantage of this opportunity.

The Air Force provides numerous opportunities to do things and tremendous responsibilities that are not easily replicated in the civilian world. Seize all the opportunities the Air Force has to offer.




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