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Rely on family—personal and military—during changing times

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Marotte
  • 375th Communications Group
Serving our great nation involves many sacrifices. For me, one of the realities I didn't consider when I joined the Air Force more than 28 years ago was the fact that my parents wouldn't be around when I retired. I was the youngest of 10 wonderful siblings who gave me unconditional love and support, yet I should have realized that my much older parents (my father being a World War II veteran) might not be by my side later if I pursued a career in the military. But, I didn't even consider it, and I came face-to-face with reality losing both my parents separately a number of years ago.

Each of you has your own stories and sacrifices that you've had to face while serving. It's not easy. But you, my sisters and brothers in arms, have been my family and support through it all. Thank you. You are my family, and I'd like to share with you some thoughts.

There are challenging times ahead, and the support of our families, both personal and military, will play a key role in how we face and overcome these challenges. One of the things my parents instilled in me was to always do my best. Unfortunately, many of us, (military and civilian) now face the realization that serving our wonderful nation may not be in our future ... our goals may not align with the needs of our country. This doesn't mean we've failed, or that our nation is unappreciative. In fact you should be proud of your service and the sacrifices you've made for your country and the opportunities you were given.

My very first supervisor, former "Buck" Sgt. David Miller, taught me three things, which I took to heart: take care of yourself, take care of your Airmen, and leave things better. Taking care of yourself is key to your ability to take care of your Airmen. You need to be on your game, bringing it every day, and be in the right mindset to support your Airmen as well as the mission. You need to grow (physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually) and continue to take on the challenges head on. You are the select few who earned the right to serve, and you must represent us well, in all aspects.

Taking care of your Airmen doesn't mean blind support. It means knowing them personally, setting high expectations and standards, and challenging them to achieve those goals. You will need to give your Airmen continuous feedback, share your wisdom, and set them up for success. And if, for whatever reason, they are released from service, you need to help them through the transition back to civilian life. Remember, they are family and deserve our respect and support.

Leaving things better should always be your goal, no matter what position, task, or opportunity you are given. Our military has embraced change and innovation for years. To paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton, "We've stood on the shoulders of giants." It's now your opportunity to own it and leave a positive mark of your own. Just don't forget where you came from and those who love and support you.

If you take care of yourself, take care of your Airmen, and leave things better, when your time does finally comes to separate or retire you can, without question, leave the service proud.

Always remember we are family, whether you are a Sailor, Soldier, Marine, or an Airman ... no matter where you are or who you are talking to, speak proudly and hold your head up high. You have sacrificed so much and served your country well. Your country, your service, your family, and I are forever grateful.