Veterans Day: You got served

Col. Jeffrey Pickard, official photo, U.S. Air Force

Col. Jeffrey Pickard, official photo, U.S. Air Force

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Good morning, good afternoon, good day. If you’re reading this and serving our country, have served our country or have served as a member of an Airman’s family, I want to thank you for your service.  Your service right now is extremely important for our country’s future.

As the warm weather starts to fade, you’ll start planning for the upcoming holidays, eating great food, sharing gifts and spending time with family and friends.  Now, more than ever, is the right time to give thanks and enjoy the freedom we experience as Americans, especially after Veterans Day.  It’s also the perfect time to thank other members of the Armed Forces, past and present, for the service they’ve provided to ensure we enjoy the freedoms we all share in our great country.  On occasion, we sometimes lose focus on the reasons we chose to serve.  Over my career, I’ve had the opportunity to meet Americans who’ve represented the highest levels of service to our country. Men and women who’ve given all for our country.  It only takes a few minutes to understand why we should never take for granted our service and why we should all give thanks for what we enjoy each day.

I’ve had the distinct opportunity to meet veterans all over our country; in restaurants, hardware stores, sports events, right here in our own Base Exchange or even in airports. I remember numerous times where I’ve seen elderly veterans and their spouses in airports wearing military baseball caps identifying them as veterans.

Often times, I approach them, introduce myself and thank them for their service.   Sometimes they’ll ask me if I’ve served and I respond, “yes.”  They’ll try to thank me, but I’ll insist that I just want to thank them for their service.  This is when the magic happens, sometimes they’ll briefly thank me. Sometimes we’ll get into a conversation about their service.  During these conversations is when I truly learn the meaning of service, integrity, and sacrifice.  Their service stories are humbling. 

Every time I get the opportunity to interact with those who’ve served, it “re-blues” me, humbles me for their service and makes me proud to serve with all of you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the military member or a military family member, you serve and sacrifice too.  Never forget why you serve: to protect and defend the flag, the Constitution and our way of life.  The world looks to us for this leadership, so never take your service for granted.

Please take a moment to reflect on your personal reasons for serving our country. Think about those whom you serve with now and those whom you served with in the past.  Take those moments, when they present themselves, to approach veterans from our past who’ve given all to ensure that we live in this, the best country in the world.  Listen to their stories of serving our country; they’re amazing.  Know that every day you serve, you’re writing your own story.  Write a story that humbles those that serve after us.  Thanks again for your service.