Humble service: Going the second mile

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- In one way or another we have all chosen a life of service to others. As an active-duty member, civilian, spouse or family member, we serve alongside one another across various units, joined with a common purpose of mission success at Aviano Air Base. What a great reward this life of service can be.

We interact with one another frequently in different ways across the base and in the greater Aviano community. Daily we engage with service organizations, back shops, squadrons, clinics and other places of work. Normally our expectations are met, while at other times they may fall short. However, we can all remember certain times when an individual or an organization helped us by going above and beyond, by exceeding our expectations, and by anticipating and meeting our needs before we even asked. These interactions left us feeling grateful and likely to share our experiences with others.

In our family and squadron, we often consider the concepts of humble service and going the second mile. The idea of humility in service is defined as a spirit of deference, choosing to place others ahead of oneself. It is deciding to yield, to support and to serve one another. Keeping this perspective at the forefront has been a priority for the success of our medical squadron as a supporting, not a supported unit.

In ancient Roman times, the common law of the era allowed soldiers to task any person to carry their military equipment for one mile. At that point, the bearer could relinquish the burden and continue on his way, which would have filled the expectation and obligation. However, some individuals chose to help the soldiers carry their burdens for a second mile. Why would they do so? Why would one choose to carry on, to work harder or to walk farther than required? In doing so, they took service from beyond the obligatory, to the voluntary.

With our current constraints in personnel, resources and time, our hardworking efforts in the hours we're given each day may only meet the minimum mission requirements. As a squadron, we have plenty of room to grow and improve in this area. Even so, we've seen that on the days and times when we are able to go the second mile for one another, it is amazing how this attitude can encourage not only the receiver but also the giver while also inspiring others nearby in a positive way.

We can find significant meaning in this life of chosen service to our country and to one another by freely deciding to go beyond that which is expected of us. Although not required, it brings great rewards for us, for others around us, and to the greater mission. This is the principle of humble service: going the second mile.