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The “Value” Of Giving

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Terri Bailey
  • 43rd Medical Operations Squadron
Most of us are living the American dream. There were multiple forces responsible for our success. Many brave men and women have made tremendous sacrifices that have helped shape who and where we are today. Like those men and women who came before us, we too have a responsibility to give back. Helping others could be one of your greatest rewards. Think about it...we feel good when we accomplish a goal or a mission, but that feeling pales in comparison to when you aid someone truly in need of your assistance. There is no greater reward than the pride I hold when I'm able to help someone else. 

Our Airman's Creed states, "I am an American Airman." According to pilot Ron Daniels, the concept of Airmanship includes multiple skills: attitude, technical skills and social skills. He believes all Airmen have a sense of responsibility to themselves and others. 

What is our responsibility to others? I believe the line "Wingmen, Leaders, Warriors" sums it up. The Air Force extends the wingman concept to include wingman culture and defines wingman culture as "Airmen helping Airmen." I believe this wingman concept has significantly strengthened our Air Force and its members. I also believe in helping others strengthen our country as well as the entire international community. 

Studies show there are two major benefits of volunteerism: economic and social. The economic benefit occurs when volunteering adds to the overall economic output of a country and reduces the burden on government spending. The social benefit occurs when volunteers help build more cohesive communities by fostering greater trust between citizens. Community service, also known as public service, is when a person performs a service for the benefit of his or her local community. Giving back to the community is something people volunteer to do willingly without motivation of financial rewards. There are so many ways to help someone else. 

The most obvious and perhaps the easiest way is to donate money or material goods. We will all have the opportunity to make our financial gifts to the Combined Federal Campaign. The CFC is a collection of local, national and international organizations. It is a very simple and safe way to make your contribution to any of your favorite sponsors. And if you do a payroll deduction, your donation will be automatically accounted for on your tax paperwork. The Air Force Assistance Fund is another worthwhile program to make donations where Air Force members directly benefit. 

Donating your time and effort can be a lot more difficult. In addition to being time consuming, it can be mentally and physically challenging. This type of donation can also be the most rewarding. The testimony of one college student, Janice, drives the point home.

 "The experience and pleasure I gained was infinitely more valuable to me than any amount of money I could have earned. Also, through volunteering I started to gain more confidence. Instead of being nervous or scared, I saw this as an experience to meet new people and learn new things. Many people said to me, 'How can you enjoy it so much if you receive no money at the end of the week? Where is the gratification?' But the truth of the matter is the feeling of helping someone do what needs to be accomplished is gratification in itself. Lastly, one thing I have observed is that going out of your way to help someone in need will make you feel better about yourself in the long run. Because I helped these two people in the past, when I sit back and think about them occasionally, I begin to feel that because of my concern and caring personality I helped these people to have one less burden resting on their shoulders. Although I did not receive any material objects in return, I gained the wonderful feeling of knowing someone's day would be brighter and better because of me. " 

Think about how you feel when you spend time with your spouse, significant other or children. 

As servicemembers, we serve our country every day. We stand up for the principles of freedom and democracy. I knew I was called to serve as a young girl at the age of 10; that's when I knew I would become a nurse. Now, as a nurse in the Air Force, I'm proud to serve my patients and my country. As a squadron commander and chief nurse, I'm privileged to serve the people and families in my unit. Service comes in many different forms, and as Airmen we have an obligation to give back, recognize a need and fill it --provide others the gifts we've received. 

In most modern societies, the most basic value is people helping people, and in the process helping themselves. Tis the season for giving. I challenge you to share your gifts and enthusiasm. Donate to your favorite charity. Spend quality time with your family and friends. Mentor your subordinates or co-workers. Read to the elderly. Help out at a library. Tutor disadvantaged children. Donate blood. Sharing your gifts is an opportunity to give back and make a difference. I believe your gifts will come back to you.