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It’s The People Who Matter

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Michael Martin
  • 21st Special Tactics Squadron Commander
This is an important time in our Air Force history as another anniversary is upon us and we continue to wage war against a determined enemy in faraway lands. We aide our fellow countrymen from the devastating effects of hurricanes, so we apply our Airmen and the unique Air Force capabilities to the spectrum of operations. The U.S. Air Force continues to be dominant throughout the world in all that we're tasked to do. 

We all know that it's the people who matter most, and our highly trained Airmen and capabilities are making it happen from Iraq to Afghanistan to Texas. But there's more opportunity to make a difference within the community and families throughout this great nation. Whether it's a financial contribution or devoting some precious time, we have the ability to make a difference in society. 

As we commence the Combined Federal Campaign this month, you must make an important decision: if you're going to contribute to a worthy cause or not, and if so, how much. There's no magical equation to determine what you should contribute. There are suggested levels based on income, but you know what you can afford based on increasing gas prices, cost of living, etc. Keep in mind, your contributions could ease the suffering or make the difference in someone's life. 

I know we didn't join the Air Force with the thought of becoming financially rich, but we're rich in satisfaction for the lives we affect through our efforts. We work and live in the most powerful and feared Air Force in the world. There are some Airmen that have made the ultimate sacrifice executing the Commander-in-Chief's number one priority, waging war against our enemies. 

Our unit sustained a loss on Mar. 22, 2008. Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson was killed in a massive Improvised Explosive Device blast while he and his team were moving in a Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle in southern Afghanistan. He left behind a wife and two children. One child was born after he was killed, so he never saw her. 

Time and money are two commodities that Airmen can contribute to assist families. A couple of examples of Airmen making a difference are in my unit. 

Senior Master Sgt. Calvin Markham, Silver Star recipient, sponsors an annual golf tournament, the Whomper Stomper Open, in Wisconsin with the proceeds going to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. SOWF is an organization that specifically provides scholarships for children of fallen Special Operations Forces warriors. The proceeds this year will go to Sergeant Jefferson's children's scholarship fund. SOWF also cares for wounded SOF warriors and their families through other programs that ensure families aren't financially overwhelmed. I know Sergeant Jefferson is in a better place and can rest easy knowing that his children will be able to attend college from the contributions folks made to the SOWF. 

Another operator from my unit that made a difference is Master Sgt. Brian Loudermilk, who sponsored the first annual Texas Hold 'em tournament, in which all the proceeds went to the SOWF. Sergeant Jefferson was an extremely talented card player, so it was natural to host a tournament with all the money going to a worthy cause. But the tournament did more than that, it brought together family and fellow Airmen to fellowship, enjoy the game and remember Will. We will never forget Will, or his family he left behind, and these types of events will ensure that is so. 

These are two examples of time and energy to make a positive difference in today's society and a unit family. When the CFC campaign kicks off, I encourage you to make an informed decision on a worthy institution to donate your hard-earned dollar. If you're financially in the hurt locker, then maybe your calling is donating some precious time. 

There are many worthy causes in the local area that could use your talent, intellect or muscle. Habitat for Humanity, reading to children at local schools, work at the animal shelter, the list goes on. Not only are you making a difference in the local community, but intrinsically, the sense of satisfaction is powerful. You can have an impact on society and represent Pope in the local community. 

There's no time like the present to help your fellow citizen. I'm extremely proud to serve in the U.S. Air Force and alongside the nation's finest. I strongly encourage you to help others that are less fortunate by contributing to CFC. You won't regret it.