The 1 percent difference

  • Published
  • By Maj. John Baker
  • 17th Civil Engineer Squadron
Have you ever considered what you do to be humdrum? You shouldn't. You and your service to our nation are special. Congress has authorized the U.S. military to be comprised of around three million military and civilian folks - that's a mere one percent of our total 300 million United States citizens - and you are part of that one percent.

Look at what that one percent does-they are the enablers of Freedom, Democracy and Opportunity throughout the modern world. Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are part of the great effort of our time to expand democracy and freedom to those who lived without for generations.

Our Declaration of Independence says it best:  "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men." Americans hold that all peoples are endowed with the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are in the best traditions of our forefathers.

If that doesn't make you feel proud, think about who the world calls when disaster strikes, famine, flood, earthquake, fire, tornado or hurricane happens, anywhere in the world: the United States military. Think about Hurricane Katrina, the Tsunami or the Pakistan earthquake in 2005.

Let's take a closer look at the Pakistani earthquake. Since October 2005, the U.S. military has seen approximately 35,000 patients, obligated more than $106 million in military support for relief operations, including airlift and excess equipment items, and is transferring approximately $8 million in medical, engineering and flight-refueling assets to the Pakistani government to continue assisting those affected by the earthquake.

Engineers cleared debris from more than a dozen schools, built a camp for displaced citizens, completed sanitation projects and adopted a village that included building five schools and 50 homes. The U.S. donated approximately 25 pieces of equipment, valued at $2.5 million, including bulldozers, backhoes, dump trucks and generators, to the Pakistan government to aid in continued reconstruction efforts. Just think, while that effort is ongoing we are also fighting the Global War on Terror - simply amazing.

Besides those big things, think of the small teams of doctors, engineers and government affairs specialists who regularly deploy all over the globe to provide services where possible - here is a current example to make the point. On a typical day at the hospital in Popayan, Colombia, dozens of people have to be turned away because they can't pay for care.

But during a recent two-week visit by a team of U.S. Airmen, over 4,000 residents got to see a doctor or dentist. They waited in long lines for the free services offered by a 14-person Air Force team performing a medical readiness and raining exercise. The U.S. military executes dozens of these types of exercises every year-providing medical care, building schools, improving roads, training host national forces...the list goes on.

Besides the physical environment, look at what the U.S. military does in society. While not perfect, the Department of Defense has shown the world that the workplace can be free from sexual harassment, racial discrimination and other hostile work environments. Moreover, we set up protections to make our ideals become reality. We try to live by a higher code of conduct every day. Our childcare and health care systems are the examples shown throughout Western society.

So tomorrow when youwake up and recall the work you did this week, remember you are part of an awesome machine. No matter whether you are in training or part of training production, no matter whether you provide support to training or provide medical care, no matter whether you are a staff agent or a customer service rep - you serve your fellow man, your nation and a higher cause.

You are vital to that great force of good that we call the United States military - Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman or civilian - you make it happen. You're part of the one percent that makes a difference every day.