Keep finding, feeding motivation to stay focused

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Shane Hickman
  • 6th Air Refueling Squadron

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - As I reflect on the Fourth of July festivities that took place a few weeks ago, I found myself pondering my service to this great nation and why I have continued to serve over the years.

My family is no different than many families today. We are your typical red-blooded American family that loves our nation, its flag and all it stands for. We have always been patriotic and proud of the values and principles our country represents.

When I decided to join the Air Force just a few short years ago, I did so because I wanted to simply serve my country and be a part of something bigger than myself.  That being said, I think many of us throughout our careers see our commitment level diminish from time to time and not be as high as it was the day we raised our right hand and took our oath.  Not because we have lost our patriotism or love for our country; but rather, because of the many deployments, long days or short-notice temporary deployments, we become tired at times.

Every once in a while, we need a spark that reinvigorates us. We all have different methods of finding that spark, whether it be from an event, the people around us, the Airmen we lead or activities we participate in, it all helps encourage and recharge us.

My spark was recently recharged by my son when he chose to follow in my footsteps and enlist in the Air Force.  He re-energized me with his energy and enthusiasm with regards to my service to and for my fellow Airmen and to this great nation.

He glows with excitement at the mere anticipation of serving our nation.  Do you remember what that feels like?  I don’t know about you, but that fires me up.  My son without knowing it revived me as an Airmen and refocused me as a leader on why I serve.  For the record, I get almost excited seeing our newest Airmen come into our squadron with the same excited look.  

I want each of you to take a brief moment and try to remember “why do you serve?”  Why did you choose to raise your right hand and take the oath to support and defend the constitution?  Are you committed to that oath and are you willing to do everything that is asked of you for the betterment of your squadron, group, wing, Air Force, country?  Do you understand that there is a difference between your job as an Airman and your specialty code?  

That being great as an Airman, will, the majority of the time, make you great at your specialty? That living up to the core values and using them as our guiding light and our common bond, will aid us to revitalize those that have been battered and bruised from the day to day grind? 

Whether you joined initially to further your education or for family medical needs or just wanted to get away from mom and dad, we all took the same oath to support and defend.  No matter the initial reason, I feel everyone chooses to serve because they love this country and are patriots.  Our Airmen serve every day with excitement and vigor but my hope is that they are finding ways to recharge when their commitment is at a low point.

As Airmen, we sometimes need to be reminded why we serve and what we committed ourselves to do in the defense of our country.  Ronald Reagan said it best, “Good citizenship and defending democracy means living up to the ideals and values that make this country great,” he said.

I believe that and know we serve the greatest country in the world with the greatest people in the world. I hope that as this year comes to a close we can all reflect on why we serve and gather the proper perspective needed to continue service to this great nation with honor, dignity and pride.