Perception is reality

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Stephen Knab
  • 4th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant
Pride in the Air Force is the key to who we are, what we do and how we are perceived. When you leave the installation at the end of the day or head out for a few weeks of rest and relaxation you still are Air Force. The key to this is that you carry yourself at all times like you are in uniform at all times.

I say this because I have seen many variations of how this image is carried out. When I came in a couple of years ago, it was really special to let everyone know I was in the Air Force and explain what my job entailed and how it kept the country safe. Any chance I had to talk to those who had served or were serving like me I did. Some of these bases I was stationed at had a lot of issues with those not overly "impressed" with those in uniform. Some of the other ones were overly impressed and would even thank you for serving.

When I first arrived here I had heard that this town supports the military. Later that month I went to a local resturauunt to get something to eat and when I got up I realized that my check was gone. When I asked the waitress, she said it was taken care of. Just then a man walked by briskly and thanked me for my service. He had, before I could even speak, paid for my meal and left. A few months later I was transporting a young troop to Correctional Custody with a fellow first sergeant. We had stopped about 20 minutes prior to arriving to get a quick meal. With the young troop in tow we sat down to eat. He was nervous and a little shaken due to the location he was going. As he sat there quietly, a man and his kids came up to talk to myself and the other first sergeant. He wanted to know about our rank and roles in the Air Force. As we finished and he thanked us, he looked over to the young Airmen, commented on how sharp and professional he looked and thanked him also for serving. Seeing the thankfulness in these people helped this young Airman reflect and grow during his stay and he is now a viable part of the Air Force.

As we walk through the town or home on leave we are 24/7 Air Force. Here locally when you are wearing the uniform, do so properly and with pride. Do not bring discredit by failing to wear your cover outside, pumping gas without your blouse on or even sitting in a restaurant in uniform while speaking disrespectful to someone or talking inappropriately. Those around you expect more from you. Just like you, they are paying taxes towards our salary and the defense of our country. Do them and yourself proud.

The next time someone comes up to you to thank you for your service, thank them for supporting us. For without them, we could not happen. Show them your pride in the United States Air Force!