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Commentary: 'Don't know what you've got till it's gone'

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, I.D. -- Have you ever had one of those days where you habitually throw on your uniform while watching the news, drive to work without even really thinking about what you are doing because you have done it so many times, perform your job and then, at the end of the day as you're driving home, think to yourself, "Why am I even doing this? What's the point?"?

Every one of us at some point in our Air Force careers has likely asked ourselves these questions whether it was when it was time to reenlist or, after 20 years, when it was time to stay in for another stint or retire. With all the force shaping going on, these are not the only two times when the option to serve or separate may arise.

When that time comes for you, what is going to justify continuing to serve in a vocation that makes so many more demands than a civilian job? What will convince you that it's worth it when you consider facts of military life such as separation from family and friends due to deployments, temporary duty and remote assignments, long work days, physical fitness requirements and the potential that you will give your life in service to your country?

Tuition assistance, retirement benefits and job security (though that is not as true as it once was) are not always enough incentive to make serving worth the sacrifice. "So, what is?" you might ask. What makes flipping pancakes at the dining facility, turning wrenches in extreme temperatures on the flightline, checking thousands of IDs at the gate or coming home in a casket worth it?

Freedom.

Think back to that mundane day described in the intro. Think about the uniform you volunteered to put on. No one forced you to serve in the military -- that is freedom.

Consider the news you watched. You had to decide which of the dozen or so news channels you wanted to view. That's freedom.

How about the car you choose to drive or the house you picked to live in? Chances are, no one forced you into those decisions. That's freedom.

How many other freedoms can you think of that are so often taken for granted? How about the ability to decide what religion to believe or not believe in? Or how about the right to speak freely, bear arms and choose our leaders? What if we did not enjoy the benefits of a nation founded on the principle that all people are "created equal"?

In 1988, the band Cinderella said it best - "Don't know what you've got till it's gone."

Next time you have a bad day or wonder why you ever signed up for military service, remember all the freedoms you and all other American's enjoy that might not be noticed until they are gone. But, that will never happen so long as there are men and women willing to make the necessary sacrifices to protect that which makes America great - freedom!

Original content found here.
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