Everyone makes a difference

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Why am I here, does what I do really make any difference? These frequently thought and asked questions are central to our success. Rank, Air Force Specialty Codes, skill level and position don't make these questions less important. The answers are key to why integrity is first, why we strive for excellence and underline our service. They hold the key to why we watch after our wingman and we don't drink and drive.

When I was first assigned overseas, our group was "plussed up" due to the challenges of being overseas; we had 'extra' bodies. In today's environment of dwindling resources and increasing operations tempo, all the extra positions are long gone. If you're at Aviano, be assured you are important. If your shop is down a person or two, you feel the pinch. It's challenging to get the job done well. Every Team Aviano member makes a difference to their peers and to the mission.

It's easy to get into a rut and easy to forget how we individually fit into the 31st Fighter Wing and Air Force mission. It's easy to start thinking, "It doesn't really make a difference, I'm just an Airman," "I'm just a cook," "I just turn wrenches," or "I'm just a lieutenant." Nothing could be farther from the truth. Ensuring planes are ready to fly, professional military education tests administered correctly, prescriptions are dispensed accurately, billeting rooms are inviting and buildings are neatly painted, each contribute to the 31st FW's success.

Every Airman can and should make a difference. Following a technical order with exactness, providing care for a family member of a deployed member with compassion, processing a financial claim correctly and quickly, and every other job here at Aviano does effect the mission.

Alabama Governor Bob Riley said, "One person can make a difference. In fact, it's not only possible for one person to make a difference, it's essential that one person makes a difference. And believe it or not, that person is you." That is why it's important you do your job well, and that you are safe on and off duty.

The link between our ability to succeed in our mission of projecting combat power and the execution of that power by our pilots is clear. But it takes the entire wing to put bombs on target. The 31st FW excels in ensuring that the support needed is there. Weather projected accurately allows mission planners to adjust appropriately. Family members who are well cared for at the hospital allow our deployed peers to focus on their downrange mission knowing all is well at home. It is the same for every Airman at Aviano.

Your service is important, that you do it excellently makes a difference, and your integrity and pride drive you to do it well. It's that same integrity, commitment to excellence and your focus on service that will have you look after your wingman, and keep each other safe. We look out for our wingmen to allow our most valuable resource, the men and women of the 31st FW, to be able to perform excellently. If we stop our wingmen from drinking and driving, they are available to support the mission. In contrast, one Airman driving while under the influence could cause our wing to lose focus on the mission as we attend an unnecessary memorial service and regret a needless death. Taking the keys from someone who has been drinking or an Airman supporting Airmen Against Drunk Driving makes the 31st FW mission succeed.

The job of leaders at every rank is to translate the vision their position affords to ensure their peers and subordinates know how their job fits into the bigger wing mission. Great leaders can explain the importance of even tedious work to those who have forgotten or do not know. So at whatever rank you are or whatever position you lead in, don't forget or let those around you forget that one person does make a difference to our wing's success.