Service before self

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. John Jordan
  • Command Chief, 183rd Fighter Wing
During our recent state level Outstanding Airman of the Year board, we asked each candidate which core value they felt their organization was struggling with. Overwhelmingly, the answer was Service Before Self. The problem was identified in each wing and I believe if we were to conduct these interviews at the national level we would see the same results in other states.

Air Force DD1-1 Leadership and Force Develop- ment defines Service Before Self in this way, "service before self represents an abiding dedication to the age- old military virtue of selfless dedication to duty at all times and in all circumstances". It goes on to identify specific attributes which include duty, respect for oth- ers, self-discipline, self-control, appropriate actions or desires, tolerance and loyalty.

Every candidate that answered Service Before Self also stated that attendance at unit training assemblies was the largest violation of this core value. Of course, we also asked them what they are doing to correct this.

We all have conflicts with the unit training as- sembly (UTA) schedule - birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations; the list goes on and on. On any given year I could easily miss several UTAs if I attended every social occasion I was invited to, but that would not be the right thing to do.

Our families provide an incredible amount of sup- port to us and undoubtedly without that support we would not be able to serve. My wife understands that this is not just a job for me, serving and defending our nation is really what defines me. When I talk with your families at wing events I frequently get to hear how proud they are and truly appreciate what you do even when it calls for being away from home.

So how do we fix this and why should we have to? As a full time technician I am frequently asked "Can't I just make this up during the week?" In some cases, yes; however, there are a lot of services and training opportunities that are not available during the week. The clinic does not staff a full time phy- sician. Physicals, immunizations, etc. can only be accomplished when the appropriate personnel are on duty. Commander's calls and mass training events are scheduled on UTA weekends to efficiently provide this training in a timely manner. We are also given a lim- ited amount of time to perform upgrade training and missing UTAs will invariably identify your squadron as having an ineffective training program.

Without completing this training or fulfilling mo- bility requirements, such as medical, your squadron and ultimately, the wing, will have to report that we do not have enough qualified Airmen to meet the assigned Unit Type Code (UTC) taskings.

Did you know you were ordered to attend UTAs? The annual drill schedule is published as an order. For calendar year 2013, Special Order M-1 was published and states "all members of Headquarters 183rd Fighter Wing and assigned units, Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, Springfield IL 62707-5001, are hereby or- dered to attend all Unit Training Assemblies (UTAs)". It does also state "unless otherwise directed by your chain-of-command" but that should be an exception not a rule. Our drill order is published in July of each year giving all unit members six months to de-conflict work schedules with the drill order.

There are a lot of benefits we are eligible for and I highly encourage everyone to take full advantage of them; however, these benefits are available to help compensate us for our service. There will be times when we are required to deploy or a change in mis- sion may require us to retrain. It is our duty to meet these obligations. The sole purpose of the 183rd is not to provide educational funding or supplement our monthly income. We are here to support and defend the constitution of the United States.

The most common answer we got when we asked how to correct the problem was to "lead by example." The Senior NCOs also suggested utilizing force man- agement techniques and I would agree that should be used as a last resort. If you are not willing to serve in the capacity required of you, then you should step aside and let someone else serve their nation. The NCOs suggested an educational approach by emphasizing the benefits of the Guard and what our Airmen might potentially lose. Our Airmen were concerned with instilling a sense of purpose or self-worth in their positions and emphasizing how important each member was to our wing and completing the mission assigned.

Service to our country requires some sacrifice and I'm only too happy to sacrifice my mother-in-laws birthday to attend drill. Just kidding and don't show this to my wife! On the serious side, there are many times I wish I could be in two places at once, but I have never regretted choosing service over self.