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A reflection in the pride of service

  • Published
  • By Col. Christine Berberick
  • 375th Medical Operations Squadron commander
As we enter this holiday season, I recently had the opportunity to reflect on the many things I am thankful for. I recognize that I am richly blessed. In addition to having a wonderful family and living in the greatest country in the world, I love being an Air Force Nurse Corps officer. When I was commissioned I could never have imagined all of the amazing people I would meet and opportunities that I would experience. Joining the Air Force was one of the best decisions I ever made.

The funny thing is, for a long time when anyone asked me why I joined, I joked and told them it was because I looked nice in blue. While I do look very nice in blue, the reason was much deeper and I don't think I even understood it well enough to verbalize for many years. I was the first member of my family to go to college. I came from an area that was ravaged by the collapsing steel industry. I knew I wanted something more. I wanted to make a difference and to be a part of something bigger than myself.

We all have a reason that we joined. Maybe it was for education, to make a better life for our family or a deep sense of patriotism. I am grateful that each of you stepped forward and raised your hand. Serving your country is an incredible personal sacrifice and I am very proud of you. I read recently that less than 30 percent of our nation's youth are eligible to join the military based on various factors including academics, criminal history, substance abuse and physical health. And less than 3 percent of our population ever volunteer to serve, but you did volunteer and I thank you.

Just as each of us had a reason compelling us to join the military, there will come a time when we will each walk away from our military service. When that time comes, I want you to be able to look back with pride on your service. To know that you had the opportunity to make a difference and you did. That you did so much more than just enough to get by. What advice can I give you to ensure that you will be proud at the end of your service commitment? It is pretty simple: "Go to work, do your job and go home."

First, we need you to go to work. Physically show up and mentally be present. Be engaged in making your unit better. Take ownership of your work center. Get involved. Ask yourself what you can do to improve your flight or squadron every day. If we all do this, imagine what we can accomplish.

Next, you need to do your job. The first part of doing your job is knowing what your job is. Learn every aspect of your core tasks. Be competent and work to become the technical expert. Continuously develop your professional skills. In addition, grow your skills as a leader and as a member of the profession of arms. Remember that all training is good and free training is great!

Finally, go home. Spend time with friends and family. Maintain your physical and spiritual fitness. Take a class, pursue a hobby. Participate in things that bring you joy. Most importantly find ways to refresh and rejuvenate. This helps us cultivate resiliency and ensure we are ready for the next challenge.

Again, I enter this holiday season grateful for your selfless dedication to our great nation. I promise you, that if you remember to "Go to work, do your job and go home," you will one day be able to look back with tremendous pride in all that you have contributed.