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Duty: what it means to an Airman

F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo -- Duty.
It is such a small, inconspicuous word. To some "duty" shines with thoughts of honor, prestige and service. To others, the word drudges with it a dreaded weight of responsibility. 

There's no reason to coat it with kindness or color it wonderful: duty, at times, sucks.
Military duty might be a shade weightier than most others: long hours, 24-hour on-call, deployments to austere locations and being away from family for months. 

Why do we do it? Duty. 

Each of us swore to set our lives aside and serve our country whenever and wherever we are needed. For the sake of protecting freedom, we will do whatever may be expected of us. 

Our integrity and, at times, pride prohibit us from violating our oath to serve. However, as shocking as it may seem, there is one aspect of military duty that most of us, including me, ignore: professional organizations. 

There is no need to quote regulations. Every NCO should know the Air Force expects NCOs to actively participate in professional organizations. 

Doing so helps increase esprit de corps, improve our community and give us a chance to develop professionally. Such benefits shouldn't be viewed as a burden, but it is hard to break that paradigm within our minds. 

Amid deployments, decreased manning and increased workloads, it's not easy making time to attend another set of meetings. However a few hours a month out of 720 doesn't sound so bad. Besides, it's a break away from the job. 

Joining a professional organization might mean more work. But it makes us, our units, our base and our service better. And if we all participated like we should, the shared work would be minimal. 

There's plenty of professional organizations from which to choose: Airmen's Council, NCO Council, Top 3, Air Force Sergeant's Association, NCO Association, Company Grade Officers Council, Air Force Association, etc. 

No one needs to join them all. Pick one. Put in an honest effort to help that professional organization succeed, and the benefits will soon come. 

As for me, I hope to see my fellow staff and tech sergeants at the next NCO Council meeting. I've just got to put in an honest effort to attend. 

After all, it's now between us and our integrity to fulfill this small part of our duty.