An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | Nov. 16, 2007

Step Up to Challenges

By Chief Master Sgt. Joey Williams 79th Medical Operations Squadron flight superintendent

In an ever-changing Air Force environment, the number of challenges that we each must face continues to grow. We are challenged by increased deployments, force reductions, and family concerns to name a few.

The only acceptable response is to do what you do every day, which is meet the challenges head on. Any challenge can be as simplistic as the definition itself, such that it is a test of one's abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking. Often it is not the challenge that is the deterrent but the lack of enthusiasm and initiative to go above and beyond, doing what it takes to meet the challenge - the act of stepping up!

The most noticeable challenges we face are the growing number of deployments in support of the Global War on Terror. I realize that many of you believe that deploying is not our primary mission. However, at the end of the day, this is what it is about - protecting the very freedoms that we all enjoy. Although extended deployments mean more time away from our homes, our families, and our jobs, you have responded in an incredible fashion, and our nation is grateful.

Lives depend on you doing your job superbly, and effective application of the training and skills will directly contribute to successful missions. Additionally, you must deploy knowing that the wingmen you leave behind will take care of the mission at the home station and will provide the necessary support mechanisms to ensure that your family is cared for.

Another area that I'm sure you are concerned about is the Air Force's ongoing initiative to  reduce the number of Airmen on active duty over the next couple of years. The Air Force will unfortunately ask some outstanding military professionals to relinquish their active duty uniforms. Your challenge is to do everything in your power to make sure you are postured for success whether on active duty, in the reserves, or in the civilian sector.

This means capitalizing on the training opportunities that the Air Force offers you, pursuing off-duty education, and performing exceptionally in your current job. It means taking care of yourself by maintaining emotional stability, being physically fit, exploring a spiritual outlet, and seeking a positive social network. Again, it's your drive, commitment and willingness to step up that will help you meet the challenge of surviving in a dwindling active force.

Third, you have to take care of your families - immediate and extended. Although they may not always understand your commitment and dedication to the mission, your families will stand by you in the bleakest hour. They will welcome you with open arms, accepting and loving you unconditionally. I once heard a retired four-star general say "You will run out of career before you run out of family." This concept applies to all of us, and your challenge is to make sure your families' needs are met. Families are our greatest support networks and without the sacrifices that they make, we could not be the world's premier Air Force.
The Air Force has called upon you to do some incredible things under some strenuous conditions, and you have delivered consistently.

There will be times when you feel that you can no longer deliver your very best. There will be times when you think you want to walk away from it all. It is during these times that I challenge you to dig deep and call upon everything that makes you who you are - an American Airman.

Reflect on why you serve - you are a leader. You are a professional. Most importantly, you are an American who has sworn to defend and protect the freedoms that our Constitution affords us.

The Air Force and the nation need you to continue to fight the endless fight, to knock down each obstacle as it stands, and to uphold the Air Force's Core Values - integrity, service before self, and excellence in all you do. I am not concerned. I know you will step up. You can and will succeed despite the growing number of challenges - deployments, force reductions, or family issues. Award winning author James Baldwin wrote: "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." Thus, I call upon every Airman to step up to the challenge and lead by example. We have a collective responsibility to those we lead and whom we serve.