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Are You a Service Ambassador?

I still have very strong memories of a day in July many years ago as I started down the road to Grissom Air Force Base in Indiana enroute to my first military flight physical. I had not enlisted yet as I needed to pass the flight physical to enter pilot training which is what the recruiter had worked for me. I remember the absolute loneliness I felt on the highway that day and fears of what I was getting into and where was I going? I had no one with a similar experience to talk to about my decision to join the Air Force. There were many unhappy veterans (it was the Vietnam era)and one friend from my church and high school had recently been killed in a helicopter crash in Vietnam. My family had just experienced the loss of our mother due to breast cancer and here I was the oldest heading off to new frontiers.

I survived the physical that day! Although they had dilated my eyes and I had no sun glasses since I had not known what that was going to be like. The painful, squinting drive home only took a couple of hours but I had been impressed by how I had been treated and they had told me I passed so I had become more convinced that I was going in the right direction.

Fast forward through a wedding and pilot training and setting up that first home! What a great experience. Then we returned back to my hometown for the family get-togethers, Sunday School picnic and a million questions about our lives. What was it like? Did I enjoy flying? Were we going to re-enlist? How was all the free food in the commissary (we still laugh about that one)?, Where was our next assignment? What had I done wrong to end up in Nevada? etc, etc,? We had such fun telling everyone the great stories but then added a few moments of laughs and challenges as well! We felt somewhat like ambassadors for the Air Force in our civilian community. We told them about all the new friends we made and how we shared experiences with them. We didn't know about a career yet but knew that we would make the right decision at the right time for our careers and family. Later we talked about overseas tours, youth groups led, vacations in unusual places and many other exciting events. We would also tell them we missed them! Come for a visit!

We look back on those days with fond memories but then jump to NOW and discussions in our church and community about military service. We live a long distance from any installation so many of our friends have little contact with military personnel. There are still some misconceptions from those who don't know and we are the ones who can provide answers to their questions with our standing in the community. Are you a doer versus a watcher? Do you join into the activities around you and find a way to smile? Do you realize people are watching you? Do you recognize that some person probably is basing their perception of what military service is like by what you stand for and your lifestyle?

As we approach Memorial Day with our sense of patriotism and recognition for those who served and paid the ultimate price for protecting our nation, remember we are ambassadors and speak loudly with our actions and comments about our uniformed services and all that they stand for in this time of war!

Do you know someone who is a great "ambassador" for the military services? Tell us why you think they are great!

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