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A greater impact

  • Published
  • By Capt. David Liapis
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
- 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.