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NEWS | March 20, 2009

Serving others while enjoying our service – a team sport

By Maj. Gen. Gar S. Graham 79th Medical Wing commander

As units across the base recognize their annual award recipients, we are offered the opportunity to stop and reflect on the tremendous service that these individuals provide to Team Andrews, the Air Force and the United States.

By having the opportunity to travel throughout the National Capital Region and the Air Force worldwide, I am repeatedly impressed by the dedication, professionalism and sacrifices made by our Airmen in service to our country. Three aspects of that successful service stand out.

Service before self is, without a doubt, first and foremost ... With 30 years of active service, I can personally attest that many aspects of our life and of our AF mission have changed, but a very prominent constant is service. We all take care of others as we accomplish our part of the mission. In the business world, the people served are called customers. In our business they are that and more. They are the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines serving our country. They are those who went before us and those who are now coming up. Those we recognize at our various awards ceremonies model service before self.

Superior service truly is a challenge to sustain, and the best way I know of to recharge the batteries is to draw joy from your service. This is the second essential trait that enables us to roll with the punches, and get back up when knocked down. All of us have days which seem to have more than a day's share of challenges. Sometimes they actually defy basic arithmetic -- days that are exceedingly long in weeks that are incredibly short! At those moments it is important to take stock of how many people trust and rely upon us. The most visible aspects of the AF mission take many, many behind the scenes wingmen to make the mission successful. Remember to take a moment to say thank you when you are the beneficiary of outstanding service. That feedback is an amazing source of pride and joy. Our award winners exhibit the joy I am talking about as they sustain excellence day in and day out.

Finally, I cannot imagine any of this happening without a very large team effort. As a young officer, I learned the valuable lesson that while the efforts of one can accomplish a task, only through the efforts of a team can the mission be accomplished. It is readily apparent that one person alone cannot launch Air Force One, perform an appendectomy, protect Team Andrews or do the very long list of missions we all support. Behind every one of us is a team of professionals (supervisors, subordinates and peers) who mentor, support and work side-by-side with us and help each of us make our contributions. Our award recipients both exhibit and appreciate the necessity of teamwork.

Serving others while enjoying our service -- a team sport.

To all of our annual award recipients and the brave men and women who have made the decision to serve our country, whether in uniform or civilian clothes -- I salute you!