I hate moving, but...
By Senior Airman Nathan Dampf, 131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 08, 2014
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Although I already stated it in the headline, I still feel the need to restate it. I hate moving.
Two months ago I moved from St. Louis to Kansas City. As I was moving my wife's heavy roll-top desk into our new home, I swore to her that this most recent move will definitely be our last. Despite being Air National Guard and never "PCSing," I have moved too many times.
But, something else occurred to me during this move. I never quite settled in St. Louis. After only living there a year, I realized this is something I wanted to focus on as soon as my family arrived in Kansas City. So, what do I mean by "settling in?"
I needed to get involved. For the last year in St. Louis, I went to work, came home, slept. Repeat. St. Louis is a great city with lots of ways to get involved, but I never took advantage of it.
I don't want the same thing to happen in Kansas City. So, I've already joined my local Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, I've contacted leaders within my church who are active in service opportunities. And, I have found a local charity that focuses on helping at-risk teens who have difficult or dysfunctional home lives.
This also translates to my military career. I also need to get more involved in my Air Guard community. How do I choose to get involved during drill? Two ways: I recently attended my first group Sunday Bible study session held by the Chaplain's office. Secondly, I have been attending the 131st Bomb Wing's Six-Below Council, a professional development and service group for technical sergeants and below, for the last few months. Both have given me the chance to get engaged with my unit and meet new people.
Possibly the biggest challenge to being involved is the time it demands. However, many of these opportunities can be performed in conjunction with regular job duties. For example, my supervisor has strongly approved my participation in the wing's council during our drill weekends because he understands that it's going to expand my professional network and make a difference in the quality of life in our wing. I've also found groups in Kansas City that my entire family can participate, so that I don't lose precious family time, and we can give back to our community together.
Just last month, the Six-Below Council volunteered to clean a portion of a nearby highway. In addition to that effort, the group is donating time to the Warrensburg Veterans Home serving dinner in January. And, during the February drill, the council is having a social event where Airmen will go to a University of Central Missouri basketball game, supporting the local team and building esprit de corps.
The council also meets to discuss issues within the enlisted force structure during its regular meetings during drill. After wing leadership launched its new enlisted force development program two drills ago, Six-Below Airmen had the chance to discuss the plans for implementation and share any questions or concerns they have.
Beyond the base councils, there are plenty of other opportunities to get involved. Now is the time of year that holiday parties are being held. Airmen can be a part of the planning committees. Or, the base has held several blood drives throughout the years. Why not join the efforts to ensure a strong turnout?
By joining organizations and meeting new people outside of those we work with daily, the benefits are endless. I mentioned my participation in the Sunday Bible study lunch; attending that event immediately had an impact on my understanding of scripture and faith. On top of the spiritual fulfillment, I've met other Airmen who share the same faith, and are colleagues who I'd now also consider to be friends.
Furthermore, I recently attended a local chamber of commerce luncheon and met a full table of eight chamber members who are well-established in my new community. Not only do I have a lot to learn from these men and women, but they are also potential resources: in my new job, I'm tasked with raising funds for my non-profit employer. Knowing local business leaders will have a great impact on the business campaign I intend to run next year.
And lastly, it is important to give back to my family's community - whether it's at an Air Force base or in the city in which we live. By getting out there and getting involved, it encourages people to be more informed about what is happening where we live.
Although it took me a move to realize it, I'd encourage every Airman to get involved in his or her base and community. Being part of a council, chamber of commerce, faith-based group, philanthropic organization or any of the countless other opportunities available to you will not only help you - but will of course also help your local community.