Commentary: Service is never ‘just a job’

Greg Leingang
Vice Director 
88th Air Base Wing

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Greg Leingang Vice Director 88th Air Base Wing

Always take pride in your work, purpose

At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, there are no “just” jobs.

Several months ago, I began meeting with each group of 40 to 70 new civilian employees at the Civilian Personnel Office’s bimonthly in-processing event in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force auditorium.

While these new hires wait to see a personnel specialist, I walk the line to welcome them and find out which organization they are joining, what their functional or technical background is, and if they’re coming to us right out of school, from the private sector or prior military service.

After they complete in-processing, I stand on stage and talk to all of them about the importance of service and the history and meaning behind the civilian oath of office. To cap it off, I have the honor of administering that oath to the new employees.

Inevitably, as I am asking them about their new jobs, a handful out of each group respond statement that begins with, “I’m just working in…” For example: “I’m just working at the fitness center” or “I’m just working in child care” or “I’m just working in info tech.”

I suspect the “I’m just working in…” statement comes from a place of humility. Or perhaps the new employees have visions of brave men and women flying faster than the speed of sound with enemy aircraft all around them, and they think their job isn’t as exciting as someone else’s.

The truth is, there’s no such thing as “just a job” at WPAFB.

Every single military, civilian and contracted position at the base ultimately connects to the same purpose: providing the forces needed to deter war and protect our country’s security. Some positions are closer to the physical fight than others, but all lead to the same place.

The fitness center worker is running programs that keep warfighters physically fit to fight. The child care provider takes care of a little one so a parent is free to execute mission-essential work that will make us successful in a conflict. The IT expert is keeping our networks and communications equipment hardened against hacking vulnerabilities so our systems work properly when pressed into war.

Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population serves as a Department of Defense civilian or on active duty. This makes everyone serving at WPAFB a member of an elite group.

I encourage you to recognize your elite status, no matter your position or job, and understand how what you do every day ultimately connects to the overall DOD mission. Take pride in knowing that in fact you are a warrior and the service and support you provide every day is what keeps our country free and our enemies at bay.

Your job satisfaction will increase as you take pride in your work and your purpose becomes clear. Regardless of uniform or your function, you are an American Airman, and there is no “just” about it.

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