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Keep in mind, military service ‘is a team sport’

Published: 10:50AM February 20th, 2014

A former commander of mine loved the phrase, ‘...this is a team sport.’ He would throw the phrase out, at random times, and then expect all hearing to understand. Most of those times I didn’t understand how it applied.

But I do now. I think the success of our military is based on being a team. It isn’t only military personnel on the team. It is families, friends, and in the case of National Guard or Reserve, it is civilian employers.

I recently attended, with other military leaders and civilian dignitaries, an event sponsored by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). The event was hosted by Governor Jay Inslee at the Legislative Building in Olympia. The event highlighted the governor signing a Statement of Support of the National Guard and Reserve in the state of Washington.

Many employers and communities underwrite our reservists and guardsmen who serve this great nation. They do it with little fanfare and few intrinsic rewards. The only reward we can offer is a heartfelt “thank you” and an opportunity to be as proud of our service members as I am.

This Statement of Support from the governor, or any of our employers and community partners, codifies support of our Reserve Component forces. It makes them a part of our team.

This connection between our military and our community hasn’t always existed. Previous generations returned home after serving a nation which did not understand what was sacrificed. Our nation’s citizens lost touch with our warriors. Our warriors didn’t understand why a vast majority of their fellow citizens resented their service. But attitudes have changed. Community support for all service members is at an all-time high. This simple act by the governor set a standard for all civilian employers and shows all of us that this community values our service.

The military perspective is unique. All who have served understand that. While other professions may share virtues such as integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do; only the military incorporates all. We live and, if needed, die for those values and for each other. General Mark Welsh, the chief of staff of the Air Force, recently spoke at an “All Call” for McChord Airmen. During the course of the meeting he met a young Airman basic. During his speech he stated, “While I just met Airman Jones, I’d give my life for him and I’m pretty sure he’d do the same for me.” As I looked in the eyes of both those Airmen, I know they BOTH understood and meant what was said.

The support of all of our teammates helps make our commitments easier to make and creates an environment for us all to succeed. Make no mistake about it, this is a team sport.