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Make the most of the hand you’re dealt

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
I arrived on F.E. Warren just over a year ago fresh out of the Public Affairs course at the Defense Information School, Fort Meade, Md. I had stars in my eyes, and I was ready to begin my career as a public affairs specialist. But where I was eager and willing to begin my new job, I had the concerns of being stationed somewhere unknown.

From the second I was told I was headed to Warren, all I got was ridicule from my fellow classmates. I had friends going to Turkey, Germany, Italy or England, and I was "stuck" going to the middle of nowhere called Cheyenne, Wyo. Almost everyone who was with me in tech. school gave the same response: "Oh. I'm sorry. Good luck out there."

For the 3 months I was in tech. school, I felt like I was being sent to the place where no one dares to go. It wasn't until the last week of school, just three days before I was left Ft. Meade on leave where things began to change.

During the last week of school, we had the opportunity to meet with a few senior master sergeants and a chief master sergeant. They talked to us each directly, asking us about ourselves, our career goals and where we were heading after school was over. This is when I was told something that I will never forget: there can never be a bad assignment, only a bad attitude towards an assignment. I didn't quite understand the meaning of this at the time, but after a few months here, I finally understood.

After meeting sergeants who had been in the military for many years and talking to them about the places they have been and the things they have experienced, I was ready to tackle Warren with everything I had. I was eager to take charge, learn from the base and become a better Airman at the job I was getting ready for.

Once I arrived here, things began turning south once again. Many people I met on base seemed to have a negative perspective of being here. The running joke seemed to be, "So this was your first choice on your dream sheet right?" or, "Welcome to the frozen wasteland."

I didn't understand why people here hated the base. I had met many great people in my dorms, my office seemed really relaxed and friendly, and I enjoyed my first few days here. It wasn't until a few weeks in that it hit me; the reason everyone was complaining was because there was nothing to do here.

Sure, we could go outside and sit on the porch. Or play videogames in our dorms. Or watch Netflix. But there seemed to be very little interest in any of those things when they were your only options. I was at a loss as to how I would find motivation to work if I couldn't find anything to motivate me outside of work.

Around this time I met with Chief Master Sgt. Mike Garrou, the former 90th Missile Wing command chief. He asked me about how I was adjusting to Warren, and when I told him of my concerns, he again reinforced the standing of attitude making the base what it is. He said that in order to have a positive attitude about the base, I should find something to look forward to or find something that can offer me an escape from the monotony of my dorm life. That is when I found Outdoor Recreation.

In a small warehouse off a main street of the base, Outdoor Rec. has no signs or anything to tell you what it was. I just happened to find it one day while exploring the base, and they changed the way I saw the base.

Sure, you can't find a whole lot to do on-base while sitting in your dorm room, but there is so much you can do once you leave the area. Outdoor Rec. opened up the possibilities to me, from ATV riding out in Albany, Wyo., to boating and jet skiing at Lake McConaughy, Neb., the local area had so much to offer me and other Airmen with a sense of adventure.

What began with Outdoor Rec. trips eventually became a habit of me and my friends. We went out to Vedauwoo, a mere 45 minutes west of the base, for some great hiking and rock-climbing. We travelled south to Fort Collins, only 30 minutes south of here, to meet new people - it is a college town after all. We travelled south to Dacano, Colo., for paintballing. Even Denver offered tons of exciting things for us to do and offers even more we have yet to experience, such as football and baseball games and tons of concerts in the area almost every weekend.

That's when I found out the meaning of the saying that there is no bad assignment. I learned that every base has something to offer you, from outdoor activities to national monuments and national parks.

Getting out and making the most of what is around me helps me enjoy the work I do each and every day. I learned to embrace my surroundings and try new things. Even when it was negative 12 degrees outside with a 20-degree wind chill, we were still able to find things to do and enjoy ourselves.

Not everyone is going to enjoy their assignment to Warren. People may try to tear you down, and throughout your career you will find someone who has a negative thing to say about a particular base, but the goal is to make the best of what you get.

Cheyenne offers a plethora of activities to do once you leave base. Take the opportunity to get out and see what nature has to offer and to experience things that you've never done before.