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What it means to me to be a first-term Airman

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Being a first-term Airman comes with a great deal of responsibilities. It means a lot of learning and training. It means doing anything and everything you can to help complete the mission at hand. It also means not only knowing the core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all you do, but learning to apply them to your everyday life as well.

As with any new job one starts, you must learn and train before you're ready to lead others. The training, although sometimes tedious, is necessary to know what to do and why it is we do things the way we do them. The Air Force spends a great deal of tax payer dollars on us, so we need to be sure we are doing things the correct and safe way. Learning from the ones who have come before us is essential so we too can someday become productive leaders of tomorrow.

Before you become a leader, you must learn to follow first, and that is what being a first-term Airman is about. You do what you're told to do, when you're told to do it, without hesitation and without question -- whether it be a major contribution to the mission or simply helping to clean up the around the office. It may not always be the most glamorous job, but it's one that is definitely significant. Without the impressionable Airman learning the ropes of what goes on in the day-to-day world of the Air Force, there wouldn't be future leaders ready to teach the next group of Airmen who will inevitably arrive ready to learn as we are now.

Possibly the most important part of being an Airman is incorporating the core values into our daily lives. Living your life with integrity almost entirely sums this concept up. If you do what's right 100 percent of the time, then the rest falls into place. This can be hard, sometimes it may be easier to cut corners when no one is around to know, but doing this is how accidents occur. When you're dealing with millions of dollars worth of equipment as we are, this clearly could have catastrophic results. A jet could go down or, even worse, someone's life could end abruptly.

Service before self means doing whatever you have to do to complete the mission, even if that means sacrificing some of your free time. Sometimes you may have to miss that hiking trip you've planned for weeks or skip that game you've been waiting to watch. Freedom has its prices, and we've all chosen to do this. Our service to our country must come first, so we can all continue to enjoy our rights and freedoms we too often take for granted.

Lastly excellence in all that we do. This goes hand in hand with integrity, and means to always do your very best no matter what. Even on those days when you wake up but really don't want to. You may not feel like going to work that day, but those are the days you have to push through and strive for excellence. You always have to bring you're "A" game. We as Americans didn't get to where we're at by giving a half hearted effort. The ones who came before us set the bar high, and it's up to us to continue the superiority that we enjoy today. We must perform at a high level at all times. The core values may be overlooked at times, but with the proper execution of them we will continue to enjoy the United States of America as it is today. If we set the example for the rest of the world, maybe someday this place could be a better one for all of us.

As first-term Airmen, we may be overlooked at times or taken for granted, but that's just more the reason for us to strive harder. If we take the time to learn and to train, others will start to take notice. They will see that we take our job seriously and want to be here. By doing what we're told to do we can show our supervisors and commanders, that although we may not be ready to lead just yet, someday when the opportunity comes, we will be ready. Incorporating the core values, we can achieve all of this and be ready to someday be the future of the Air Force. Without first-term Airmen, the mission becomes much more difficult to accomplish.