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NEWS | Feb. 18, 2009

Leave it better than when you got here

By Lt. Col. Eric Obergfell 316th Contracting Squadron commander

As a commander, I think the best advice I can share is a message my parents instilled in me as a young boy, one that is lived out by some of my most respected mentors, "Leave it better than when you got here." 

Now, it may seem like that it is a pretty broad statement, but there is much more to it than meets the eye. If you are wondering what to leave better, let me suggest three areas my mentors have shared with me; making yourself better, making the world around you better and making our Air Force better. 

First, you can continually focus on making yourself better every day. 

You cannot take care of anything or anyone else for long if you do not take care of yourself. Have a plan to grow in your faith, develop your relationships, take care of your heath and learn. If you struggle with how to get started in any of these areas, you're in luck because we have experts in each of them here at Andrews and the price is right: free! The chaplain staff can provide direction in your faith journey and even provide relationship advice too if needed. The fitness center offers the microfit service to help you figure out where you need to focus your physical training as well as a variety of group training classes to liven up your workout; if you haven't tried our tactical fitness classes you're missing out! 

The education center can advise you on how to best reach your learning goals and the library has a lot of material, my favorite being books on CD. A little investment in yourself daily will enable you to do more with and for those that you love most in this world. 

Next, make the world around you a better place. Every day we face a lot of choices in how we treat others and what we do with our time. 

We all have different gifts to share with others, but there are two things we can all do to make the world around us a better place; have a positive attitude and get involved in the community. I admit, it is a challenge to keep a positive attitude every day, so you need to have a plan. I do this by creating a routine that gives me a boost first thing in the morning. I get up, exercise, have breakfast and read the Bible, after that I am ready to face the day with a smile! Positive attitudes are like anything else good, you have to work for them. 

Like positive attitudes, getting involved just doesn't happen; you have to look for the needs around you. I recommend getting involved in community and professional groups here at Andrews. 

We have a variety of community activity groups such as youth programs, parish councils, feeding the homeless and many more that could possibly use your skills. 

In addition, professional groups like Top Three, Company Grade Officer Council, Andrews Alliance and many others offer opportunities to mentor, network and make a difference here at Andrews. Sure, there are a lot more things we can do to make the world around us a better place, but these two areas are a good start. 

Finally, focus your effort at work to make our Air Force better. You can do this by learning how your job contributes to your group, wing, major command and the Air Force. 

This knowledge will empower you to make decisions that align your performance with organizational goals. In the 316th Wing, our goals are to show presidential level respect to each Airman, take pride in our work, being fit to fight and communicating. In the 316th Contracting Squadron, our mission is to acquire and support war fighting capabilities through responsive solutions. We execute our mission by focusing our efforts on customer support, financial accountability, internal process control and force development. 

In the 316 CONS we respect our customers through outstanding service by ensuring performance of service contracts, awarding simple contracts within 30 days and providing monthly customer training. 

In 316 CONS we seek to respect U.S. taxpayer dollars through financial accountability by competitively awarding $160 million dollars worth of best value contracts and maintaining an accountable $24 million dollar Government Purchase Card program. In 316 CONS we show pride in our work through systematic internal process controls such as monthly management reviews, quarterly unit compliance self-inspections and semi-annual program management reviews. 

In 316 CONS we stay fit to fight by setting personal goals, having technical and contingency contracting training monthly and working out together regularly. 

In 316 CONS we add value to our customers through communication by serving as integrators. We work projects that involve multiple squadrons and our local industry partners. All our communication is focused on getting the right products and services delivered at the right time so our customers can fly, fight and win. 

When my parents used to tell me "leave it better than when you got here," they were usually referring to picking up the toys at my friends' house when we went to visit. As I get older I realize that the sooner I learn the simple lessons in life like the one discussed here, the better off I will be and more folks will enjoy having me around. I sure want to be surrounded with folks that want to leave it better than when they arrived.