Telling your story is important

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jody Ocker
  • 65th Medical Operations Squadron commander
When I was deployed to Iraq my mother said, "We have Air Force people in Iraq? What does the Air Force do there?" My mother is probably like a lot of other people out there. She's educated, watches the usual news networks every day and reads the newspapers. How can they not know about the most advanced, capable and superior air force on the planet? Well, it seems we haven't done a very good job of telling them about ourselves.

Air Force Leadership is encouraging every Airman to tell the Air Force Story. We should be able to articulate the core values, mission, priorities and functions and what they bring to the joint fight. There are several helpful links on the Air Force Portal homepage under the heading (oddly enough) "Tell the AF Story." I encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with the facts and messages those resources contain. Just as important as it is to tell the Air Force story, it's important to tell your own story.

Less than 4 percent of the United States population serves in its military. Very few have firsthand experience to understand our character, commitment, sacrifice, service and experience. Most of us serving in the Air Force today have either begun or extended our service since Sept. 11, 2001. That says something about who we are. We are the ones who go running into the burning building. We sacrifice much of ourselves in order to serve others. Your personal story of service to your country is an important story to tell.

I'm not saying each of us should get out there and toot our own horns for our own personal glory. I'm saying tell your story as an example of the thousands of others who stand beside you every day in service to our nation. I'll give you an example from my personal experience that illustrates my point.

I recently received a Distinguished Service Award from my university's alumni association. I was very reluctant to be singled out for recognition. Those of us who serve are not doing it for the recognition. The only thing that could justify it in my mind was to use it as an opportunity to tell the story of military medical professionals of which I am merely an example.

I was able to talk about the core values, dedication and teamwork of thousands of medics who have served and continue to serve at home, overseas and deployed. Although the story was my story, it was also the story of many others. The story allowed the audience to gain insight into the lives and experience of the troops they support. Priceless.

Each one of us has a unique story to tell. It is at a minimum unique from 96 percent of the population. Telling our individual stories is an important part of telling the Air Force story. As said by Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, "I think the fundamental thing is that everybody counts ... No one, no job, no specialty is more important than any other. Everyone matters and everyone is an important part of this team."

Thank you for your service, dedication, sacrifice and commitment.
Thank you for the job you do every day that supports the Air Force mission.