What are you missing?

  • Published
  • By Col. Roderick Davis
  • 341st Mission Support Group commander
After 27 years, it is very interesting to me to see how small ideas and perceptions can actually become rules that we live by. Take for example the age old adage you heard prior to coming into the military, "you don't want to volunteer," or said a different way, "be careful what you ask for because you just might get it." This simple "rule" has wide impact for anyone who may decide to follow it. 

Volunteerism is a two-way street. We, as volunteers, provide a much needed service or support. At the same time, we as individuals gain experience, grow and learn more about ourselves. There were numerous times throughout my career where I volunteered, let's take a moment and see where I broke "the rule." 

As an Airman, I volunteered to work a Special Olympics event. My job was race course official and time keeper. It was very obvious as the day progressed that the participants didn't care who I was or what I was doing. They were absolutely thrilled and thankful that I was there supporting them. There are not many things that will bring a lump to my throat but their reaction to me was inspirational and emotional. It was an experience I will always remember and cherish. 

Last year, I was asked if I would consider volunteering to be a member of a Military Commission. A military commission, for anyone who is not familiar, is a military trial for civilians charged with war crimes against the United States and/or its allies. As a point of reference, the last Military Commissions were held after World War II. Although I was hesitant, I volunteered and was one of only 10 Department of Defense officers (four Air Force, three Navy, two Army, and one Marine) selected for this duty. We found ourselves at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for this historic event with international implications. This select group of officers verified new procedures used to hold a military commission, while determining the fate of a war criminal ... all under the watchful eye of the international community. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see our justice system responding to wartime responsibilities. 

Finally, I was recently an augmentee for the 13th Air Force Inspector General team. Having been on the receiving end of numerous inspections, it was rewarding and educational to see the inspection process from the inspector's viewpoint. My perception of how an inspection is conducted and the level of effort needed to ensure the inspection accurately reflected the unit's abilities was changed dramatically. 

Volunteering is something I have done throughout my career with surprising results. It has allowed me to grow professionally, personally and spiritually while bringing much needed support. So the next time your supervisor, commander, spouse, etc. asks for you to volunteer, think not only about what you give up but how it will change you and others. Don't be afraid to break this "rule." Instead, get involved. It's great for the base, community, you and your career!