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What is your purpose?

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – As I sit in my hotel room on the eve of the Air Force’s 71st birthday, I cannot help but reflect on my career and what the Air Force means to me. Today, I had the pleasure of listening to Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson, address attendees at the annual Air, Space and Cyber Conference. Her words were both thought provoking and inspiring, but the thing I gleaned most was a simple question she asked, “What is your purpose?”

When I joined the Air Force in 1998, the answer to this question was pretty easy, do whatever my supervisor told me. Twenty years later, I somehow find this question is much more complicated to answer. I am humbled each day to work with the most diverse professionals in the Air Force. Each day I strive to make their lives better in any way I can. Whether it’s simply asking how their day is going, seeing how their family is doing, or contacting the assignment functional on their behalf to see if the member can get an assignment closer to family, my purpose is to make the Airmen I work for better each and every day. By hopefully making their lives better, I in turn make the Air Force better. 

What is your purpose? It may be ensuring you are diligent in checking military identification at the main gate. By doing this, you ensure the safety and well-being of the service members and their families who live and work on the installation. You enable the maintenance personnel to continue working on the aircraft without fear of an unauthorized person entering the flightline while they are working. By properly setting the correct torque on the wrench when tightening a bolt, you ensure the aircrew flying on the aircraft is able to deliver relief supplies to those in need following a disaster, or paratroopers to be able to jump out and secure an airfield needed to land aircraft during a contingency. Meticulously entering the correct information into the pay system ensures people will get properly paid. This allows deploying service members to have peace of mind knowing their family is being financially taken care of while they are out launching aircraft or guarding the base perimeter.

The Air Force is sure to face some challenges in the future as world powers like Russia and China become more involved on the world stage, and have placed much more emphasis on building up their militaries. More than ever before we need Airmen that are experts at their jobs and do not accept anything less than excellence. No one truly knows exactly what the future holds, but I assure you, we belong to the greatest Air Force the world has ever known because of those who came before us and what you do each and every day. Now I understand not everyone can work directly with their assignment functional, but hopefully there are things you can do each day to find your purpose. What is your purpose in the Air Force? What are you doing to help move us into the future?