The importance of service before self

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Most people never hear the impact they have made in other people's lives. 

We are fortunate, as military members, to receive accolades constantly. We walk around our communities dressed in our uniforms, and people express gratitude for what we do. Have you ever wondered what we represent to them? I believe, if you asked them, some of their responses would include our representation of pride, honor, service, safety, sacrifice, respect, discipline and dignity. These same words are sprinkled throughout our core values. 

We have an inherent responsibility to ensure the people who follow in our footsteps receive the same appreciation from our public. We must ensure we abide by the guidance of our core values and that our fellow Airmen do the same. 

What do we have to do to satisfy our responsibility of Service Before Self? We must acknowledge and follow the rules faithfully. Rules, orders, instructions and directions need to be precisely adhered to unless there is an operational or legal reason for refusing to do so. We must respect others, regardless of rank, as people with fundamental value. This tenant is not asking us to remove our rank or authority; it simply means that if we are going to defend human dignity around the world, then we must respect human dignity in our work places. 

We must exercise and enforce discipline and self-control. Throughout our career, we will encounter temptations. We must learn to control our appetites and not allow them to influence our decisions. As professionals, we must refrain from fits of anger and self-pity by displaying control, confidence and optimism. 

Finally, we must have faith in the system. We get caught up with the hardships of the moment; these are the times we need to remember our mission. Our attitudes at every level are contagious and we must remain cognizant of our responsibility to each other.
To serve is to give and the gift we offer is freedom. Service Before Self is an honorable commitment, and we must remain dedicated to its cause regardless of the personal price we pay. 

(Editor's Note: This article is one of several highlighting the Air Force Space Command Year of Leadership and its focus on Core Values)