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NEWS | Oct. 27, 2008

Three benefits Airmen should keep in mind

By Airman 1st Class Brad Sisson 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

As a junior enlisted Airman coming up on my three-year mark, I think the reality of what it means to be an Airman is finally setting in. One thing I'm definitely getting used to is the frequent benefits I receive for wearing the uniform, whether it's a discounted movie ticket, college tuition, health care or job security in this economically unstable world. However, some of our most valuable benefits may not immediately come to mind and can sometimes be taken for granted. 

The most common benefit that we all probably take for granted is gratitude from the community. This is the most important benefit I receive from my service. This can be expressed by a simple "thank you." from the convenience store cashier who has never served or the Vietnam veteran who knows how dear those two words can be. As Airmen we should take these sentiments to heart, not only because we do our best to fulfill our duty every day but because we all volunteered to be here -- that choice puts us in very exclusive company. 

Another benefit we often overlook is that we touch lives; from the victims of Hurricane Katrina and others impacted by dozens of natural disasters all over the world to an Iraqi child who will never know the tyranny of Saddam Hussein's rule. It can be a challenge for Airmen to see the benefits in what we do, especially when media runs negative news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But realizing how many lives you touch just by doing your job can be the most defining moment in any military career. 

The final benefit some Airmen forget is being a part of history. Our nation called upon the first generation of Americans in 1774 to fight, and in some cases make the ultimate sacrifice, for the future of freedom. You could work for a Fortune 500 company making a six-figure salary and never outweigh the impact of a United States Airman turning wrenches on the flight line and getting jets in the air. 

As military members we are given the opportunity to touch lives, make history and be honored as heroes. Although these benefits may not be on your mind every day, perhaps the next time you are asked why you serve you'll consider them in your answer.