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A greater impact

Airmen from the 22nd Training Squadron clear trail paths with family and friends as part of their resiliency and team-building activity on Tubbs Hill in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, August 11, 2014. A team of about 30 volunteers from the 22nd TRS and SERE Solutions Inc., along with family friends, participated in a two day team building and resiliency event that ended with an overnight stay at a local campground, followed by a 15 mile bike ride down the historic Hiawatha Trail in Wallace, Idaho, that crosses the Montana border.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes/Released)

Airmen from the 22nd Training Squadron clear trail paths with family and friends as part of their resiliency and team-building activity on Tubbs Hill in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, August 11, 2014. A team of about 30 volunteers from the 22nd TRS and SERE Solutions Inc., along with family friends, participated in a two day team building and resiliency event that ended with an overnight stay at a local campground, followed by a 15-mile bike ride down the historic Hiawatha Trail in Wallace, Idaho, that crosses the Montana border. Members of Team Fairchild continuously seek opportunities to leave their footprint in the community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes/Released)

Airmen from the 22nd Training Squadron clear trail paths with family and friends as part of their resiliency and team-building activity on Tubbs Hill in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, August 11, 2014. A team of about 30 volunteers from the 22nd TRS and SERE Solutions Inc., along with family friends, participated in a two day team building and resiliency event that ended with an overnight stay at a local campground, followed by a 15 mile bike ride down the historic Hiawatha Trail in Wallace, Idaho, that crosses the Montana border.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes/Released)

Airmen from the 22nd Training Squadron clear trail paths with family and friends as part of their resiliency and team-building activity on Tubbs Hill in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, August 11, 2014. A team of about 30 volunteers from the 22nd TRS and SERE Solutions Inc., along with family friends, participated in a two day team building and resiliency event that ended with an overnight stay at a local campground, followed by a 15-mile bike ride down the historic Hiawatha Trail in Wallace, Idaho, that crosses the Montana border. Fairchild Airmen participate in events to help the community throughout the year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes/Released)

Airman 1st Class Joshua Honey, 336th Training Support Squadron vehicle operator, helps move hay bales at Rocky Cove Youth Ranch in Tum Tum, Washington, Sept. 15, 2014. The Fairchild Airmen volunteered to help the ranch get ready for the Healing Hearts through horses program held there.  The ranch designed the program to help foster children and troubled youth by allowing them work with horses to learn values and responsibility.   (U.S. Air force photo by Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes/Released)

Airman 1st Class Joshua Honey, 336th Training Support Squadron vehicle operator, helps move hay bales at Rocky Cove Youth Ranch in Tum Tum, Washington, Sept. 15, 2014. The Fairchild Airmen volunteered to help the ranch get ready for the Healing Hearts through horses program held there. All Airmen are encouraged to seek opportunities to volunteer within the local community. (U.S. Air force photo/Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes)

Firefighting recruits from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., and the local community enter a smoking building during a multi-company training drill Dec. 6, 2014, in Spokane Valley, Wash.  The 23 recruits participating were part of a four month curriculum conducted by the West Plains Fire Academy.  District 10, Airway heights and Medical Lake stations were part of the all-day training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes)

Firefighting recruits from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., and the local community enter a smoking building during a multi-company training drill Dec. 6, 2014, in Spokane Valley, Wash. The 23 recruits participating were part of a four-month curriculum conducted by the West Plains Fire Academy. District 10, Airway heights and Medical Lake stations were part of the all-day training. Airmen and local community members work and train together on a regular basis. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- - If you've been in the Air Force for at least a month, you've probably heard someone say Airmen should get out and volunteer, and that's great advice. However, what usually follows that statement causes some concern for me and other Airmen.

It's not something we want to admit because it doesn't sound good, but most supervisors have probably finished the above advice with something like, "It'll be a great bullet on your performance report."

There's nothing wrong with caring about an Airman's career by helping them strengthen their enlisted performance reports and award packages. However, we sometimes lose sight of the more significant rewards derived from the thousands of hours Airmen contribute to worthy volunteer causes both on and off base - being good neighbors and productive citizens in the communities we live in and around.

The EPR bullet should be an afterthought and byproduct of Airmen contributing their time, efforts and talents to benefit their fellow man and the environment.

Think beyond the performance reports and awards and their career implications. Think about the lives that are touched when a house is built, a youth event is enabled, a pink ribbon run is facilitated, a Special Olympics event is supported, or when Airmen participate in any of the other countless ways they can volunteer. Think about how we build public trust and how support for the U.S. armed forces can be enhanced when our civilian neighbors see our service to them and how they benefit from our being around.

Our neighbors and community members need to have more interaction with us than the occasional run-in at the local fast food joint or grocery store. Yes, we are already serving them by putting on the uniform. However, we have the opportunity to engage with the communities that surround our installations on a much more personal level.

In no way is this intended to discourage anyone from doing good for any reason, even if it is just to check a box. But, all Airmen should re-examine their motivation when it comes to volunteering. Solid performance reports and well-rounded Airmen are ideal, but also consider the greater impact their service can have on those around them.

Contact your first sergeant, community support coordinator or public affairs office if you want to learn about ways you can get involved in your local community.