Service before Self, not Service instead of Self

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gerald Yap
  • Commander, 42nd Mission Support Group
This is not your father's military. We are constantly asking more and more from the great men and women that have volunteered their service in the defense of our great country. We ask Airmen to give up freedoms and sacrifice time and energy from family. Actually, we demand it of them. It is part of our culture and is one of our core values. It's what makes our Air Force strong.

The "Little Blue Book" states that Service before self tells us that professional duties take precedence over personal desires. Additionally, it stresses rule following, respect for others, discipline and self-control, as well as faith in the system. This trust and dedication to what we do is critical because we trust every teammate to do the right thing when the time is right.

Yet, what I would ask each Airman to remember is that in order for them to give the most of themselves, their life must be in order. Whether it's mentally, spiritually, physically or emotionally, each member must take care of themselves and their families. Each member must take the time to deal with the stress of the ever-growing demands we place on them. Our goal is not to break anyone, but to accomplish the mission at hand.

Everyone must have their own personal outlet to deal with the demands we put on them. It may be taking in a movie, spending the day with family at the park, or simply getting more sleep. A common outlet is working out. It is acceptable to ask a supervisor for some time off to handle stress or to take care of personal issues. Airmen cannot be fully focused if there are outside pressures that are unresolved.

Another aspect of sacrifice is the understanding of when personal priorities may supersede that of the Air Force. This may seem blasphemous, but hear me out. What I would stress is that each Airman must understand that there are consequences to every decision they make. Declining an assignment may be the right thing to do for your son or daughter's high school stability, but by doing so, that member has made a decision that may put him behind his or her peers. However, putting the family first in certain circumstances ultimately contributes to the strong support structure that allows the member to serve at their very best.

Ultimately, an Airman that understands their needs and strikes the balance to allow himself or herself to be the most productive will yield the biggest dividend for our nation. Take care of yourself.