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Home : News : Commentaries : Display
NEWS | May 8, 2015

What we do matters

By Senior Airman Samantha Varden 437th Airlift Wing command chief admin

I grew up in Yorktown, Va., and once a year during high school; we would take a field trip to Washington, D.C. The trips usually included walks through The Mall (that's where all the monuments and memorials are), a trip or two to an art museum and then it was back home to reality. Going to D.C. was always a sobering experience, but never hit me like it did during the recent trip I took to with Col. Lamontagne and Chief Hughes. We went to meet with Sen. Tim Scott to discuss Joint Base Charleston needs and to build relationships. 

It was my first time back at the Capitol in quite some time and I was absolutely humbled.  I honestly felt honored to be there and thought about how I took the same oath, shared the same uniform and core values as all of the people who served before me. The feeling of being there as a military member, helped me understand more clearly why veterans are moved when visiting. Walking past the World War II memorial, down the reflecting pool, up the steps toward the Lincoln Memorial, and thinking about all those who had come before us as we walked down the Vietnam memorial, left me in tears. My heart was so full and I could feel a real sadness and a "hit-home" type of feeling as I thought, these were MY brothers and sisters who gave their lives for us.

Adding to that eye and mind opening experience, we were escorted throughout the day through the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. It was a huge realization for me to see that there are so many moving parts in the day to day running of the government. It was a priceless experience to engage with Air Force Headquarters leadership and see just a sliver of what happens at their level every day. I met people who genuinely care about America and the military and it was very reassuring. We were required to wear our service dress uniform while at the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. The impact of the blue uniforms in a sea of young civilians was very significant. We walked past a large group of young school girls, probably ages 12 to 14. Walking by them as a woman in uniform was especially noteworthy for me. It shows them they have the potential to be anything they want to be; that you have the capability to be a strong, powerful woman in this world. It solidified even more for me that whether you are in uniform or out, people are always watching you, how you carry yourself and the professional image you portray.  We must always remember and be conscious of the influence we have on civilians, young and old.

The biggest lesson I took away from this entire trip is the impact we have on a daily basis is tremendous. Working in the wing you are very involved with how things are created and how the big picture comes together in the squadrons and on base. After visiting Capitol Hill, I cant tell you the saying, 'every job is important' is true because I have seen it! The bigger picture is so fascinating and I believe everyone should dive in and get the most out of the Air Force because unlimited opportunities are available. Take charge of your career by showing you care. Care about your job and find out how it affects the mission. Find out what it is that YOU do for Joint Base Charleston. The information is out there, you just have to want it. You might think it is the same mundane task you do day in and day out, but the overall outcome of something that you physically had your hands on and were involved with is profound.

I feel what we do is so important. As young Airmen, we are under the impression that what we do isn't really all that important or noteworthy. There were times when I would load passengers or expendables onto an aircraft and not really feel any passion, that it was just my job. But after deploying to Al Udeid and moving to the wing, I have seen first-hand that what I do is vital to the mission here at Joint Base Charleston. It's imperative to be aware of our mission and the impact everyone has; even as young Airmen! This experience opened my mind to what the Air Force does and I am hungry for more. Be passionate about what you do and, if you aren't happy about it, make a change.