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NEWS | Nov. 18, 2013

What I believe, the next chapter

By Chief Master Sgt. Earl Hannon 628th Air Base Wing command chief

Though it hardly seems possible, it has been 19 months since my family and I arrived at Joint Base Charleston and I penned "What I Believe, Part 1." During this short time, it has been a true honor for me to serve alongside the many outstanding warriors and civilians who live, work and play on JB Charleston. Accordingly, as I prepare to depart for my next assignment, I would like to take this opportunity to share a few parting thoughts.

We worked hard this past year, not only making the mission happen, but also executing a wide array of special events, distinguished visitor tours and herculean projects, all while amassing multiple high-level awards and accolades. But we are not yet done. In the forefront of everyone's mind, of course, is the upcoming unit effectiveness inspection followed closely by the uncertainty of another year filled with fiscal austerity as well as our ongoing efforts to mature and improve the joint base. Nevertheless, I am fully confident Team Charleston will continue to prevail with the same excellence that brought us to this point.

Clearly, none of our past accomplishments, or those yet to be realized, happens without people. For this reason, we must take care of ourselves -- and each other. In our environment, it is far too easy to become engulfed in one or more of the many "priorities" competing for our attention. Acknowledging we must remain focused on the task at hand, the danger is when we become so fixated on getting the job done that we neglect the very "tools" or "resources" which enable us to perform our job in the first place.

Our most valuable resource is unquestionably ourselves. We are of little value to ourselves, the Air Force or each other if we do not take care of ourselves -- in all facets of our being:

- Physical: Being fit to perform the mission in both peace and wartime
- Mental: Having the ability and capacity to deal with dynamic and stressful situations in combat and everyday life
- Social: Fostering relationships and emotional bonds based on mutual trust and respect
- Spiritual: Finding purpose and meaning in life based on our innate value set

We must never stop growing in these areas, for when we stop moving forward, we are at best standing still -- if not going backward.

Closely related to taking care of ourselves is taking care of our brothers and sisters in arms. We are all part of a greater team. And whether we use the term wingman, shipmate, battle buddy, colleague or friend, we have an obligation to our teammates ... to encourage, develop, support, protect and watch out for each other.

A near equally valuable resource to that of ourselves is our family. While we often refer to our brothers and sisters in arms as our military family, someday we will all take off the uniform of our service and go home. And if we do not take care of our family at home, who will be there for us when we have finished serving our nation?

No matter how "important" your job is, do not allow it to become more important than the resources which enable you to perform your job. So as we look forward to the upcoming holiday season and the opportunities which lie ahead, I encourage you to take time for yourself, your family and each other.

Finally, please allow me to conclude by offering a simple "thank you" for everything you do each and every day to keep our nation strong and free. I am both humbled and honored to have had the privilege to serve alongside you.