Much more than time

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kali L. Gradishar
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Volunteering is not new to me. Beginning in middle school, I was constantly involved in programs that encouraged students to reach out into the community.

Soup kitchens, food drives, auctions, holiday gatherings for children, yard work, meal deliveries, and the list goes on.

Though, each time there was something special that made me take a step back and realize, "What I'm doing is important. What I'm doing makes a difference to someone."

I realized that while these hours of community service and volunteering were sometimes just numbers to place on my volunteer time sheet, someone actually benefited from what I was doing.

As I continue my immersion into military life, I see that volunteering should not just be a bullet on an Enlisted Performance Report or Officers Performance Report. It is undoubtedly much more than that.

For Veteran's Day last year, a group of Airmen visited an Air Force veteran's home. The man was aging, becoming more unable to keep up regular housekeeping and yard work, and it was apparent that he didn't have many visitors. But on this special day he had more than ten appreciative Airmen with whom he could share his valorous stories of his military days.

We left the veteran's house that day in a better state than it was when we got there. The porch newly painted, stepping stones replaced, awry branches cut and ages of dust removed.

We also left the veteran's house knowing that we had made a difference in his day, and it definitely made a difference in mine.

This was just more proof that volunteering is a two-way street. It is a powerful tool, to be able to provide a fellow being with something they don't usually have and to see the smiles and renewed hope some receive from one simple act.

Do some volunteering. Do it for the bullet, but do it for yourself and do it for others. It may actually provide you with the same sense of accomplishment and gratification as a perfect "firewall five" on your performance report.