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ANG director engages Airmen

MADISON, Wis. -- Over the September drill, approximately 20 hand-selected Airmen joined Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke III, the Director of the Air National Guard, for lunch at the dining facility on base. I was one of those lucky Airmen.

My peers asked numerous questions. Some were concerned about the budget, others wanted to know about the planes he's had the opportunity to fly and which was his favorite, and many wanted to know his goals for the ANG.

He went into detail about each of the topics.

First off, he doesn't get to provide much input when it comes to the budget, so he didn't go into a lot of detail on that subject. He did, however, reassure us he doesn't foresee the ANG going anywhere - we are a vital part of the Air Force.

Second, he has special memories with each of the planes he's had the chance to fly. He loves the A-10, C-26 and F-16 equally. Clarke stated they are all so different, there's no way to compare them.

Third, he has a ton of goals for the ANG. Clarke wants to ensure when we go to war or training events with our active duty counterparts, we impress them with how much we know about our Air Force jobs, and how great we are at both leading and following each other. He wants our new inspection program to allow us to receive the training and critiquing we need on a regular basis. Clarke also wants us to succeed in both our AF positions and our civilian jobs.

His list went on, but as he was wrapping it up - I asked him a question that took him by surprise. "What are your personal goals?"

He thought about it for what felt like 5 minutes and then responded, "I don't really have any personal goals. My goals are for the Airmen."

Clarke made it clear that our success is his priority. He pointed out the fact that he never had goals of becoming the DANG. As an Airman, he just made sure to say 'yes' to every opportunity that came his way. His willingness to try new things got him into the position he is in today.

"You are in control of your future," Clarke said. "Don't ever say 'no' to yourself."

If our Airmen take these words of wisdom to heart, we'll continue to see a ton of success. The key to his message is written in our core values; Service before Self. You may miss out on the little things at home by going on a deployment or attending an extra training exercise, but think of how much you'll gain. These types of opportunities can help you grow tremendously as an individual. They can help you become the father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter you want to be.

Whether you serve 2 years, 6 years or stay in for 20 or more, the skills you gain with the ANG are skills you'll carry with you the rest of your life.

In the words of Clarke, "Serve with distinction - be proud of what you do and who you are."

You are an American Airman. Take advantage of the opportunities the ANG brings your way.
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