Seek Opportunity to Serve

  • Published
  • By by Col. Troy Havener, 144th Fighter Wing commander
  • 144th Fighter Wing

Each of us has recited the U.S. Air Force's Core Values.  Integrity, Service, Excellence.  Those Core Values roll off the tongue so easily and are referenced so often that sometimes we lose sight of the constant, practical application of each Core Value.  Consider that the commitment each of us has made to these values binds us together as part of a unified team.

Let’s clarify the USAF Core Value referenced here.  Stating “Integrity, Service, Excellence,” intentionally abbreviates the Core Values in the name of brevity, but some meaning is lost—especially in the second core value. It is important to remember that our commitment is to “Service before self.”  Saying all the words of this Core Value emphasizes specific characteristics of the service we should all be striving toward—service to a higher purpose than our own benefit, safety, or comfort. I will attempt to articulate a few ways in which I view service before self, and a compelling perspective regarding the effect of other’s service.

As airmen committed to the team, we serve the team.  We serve each member of the team, relentlessly pursuing ways to care for airmen on the team, reach goals of the team, and improve the team.  We do this without expectations of reward, bonus, or public acknowledgement.  That is service to the team. Observing team members serving one another motivates us to join in that service.

We serve the community and the state. We do this when called upon to assist with emergency situations or disaster response.  We also engage in the community simply when we observe a way in which we can contribute to improve the lives of others. This commitment to service before self is encouraging to others who observe it in action, though those serving may never know the weight of the impact made.

We serve the nation. We commit to consistent contributions through dedicated efforts to persistently defend our nation, to be ready to fight at a moment’s notice, to seek opportunity to follow, develop, lead, mentor, and grow. We commit to lead bravely, take informed risk, and if needed, make ultimate sacrifices.   

In all of these ideas, true service is focused upon contribution, not entitlement. It is driven by higher callings, and motivated by personal conviction and momentum generated by a team serving together. It is also characterized by an attitude of service that is always seeking opportunities to serve with more impact for the team, for people, and for good causes.

Thank you for your commitment to service before self!  You motivate me to continue seeking ways to serve better in the roles I have been given! I am privileged to get to serve on the team with you! 

Serve the team, serve the community, serve the state, and serve the nation.