Look beyond the bullet

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessica Hines
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Have you ever heard someone say, "You should do that; it would make a great bullet"?

Bullets on an enlisted performance report can be daunting when the pressure to go the extra mile replaces the motivation for self-improvement and a dedication to serve.

Last time I checked, the Air Force motto wasn't to 'Fly, Fight and Write Strong Bullets.' The pursuit of a strong EPR is certainly important, without a doubt, especially for promotion. But how often do we get involved in our community or base without some kind of personal gain?

It can bring up an age old question: "Is there truly such a thing as a selfless act?"

But that's another conversation.

As a young enlisted Airman, I can only image the time spent writing strong performance reports. I have yet to be in a position to write an EPR, however, I've observed the stress and countless man-hours spent mulling over well-crafted EPR bullets and the quest for a "firewall 5."

Personally, I know I'm guilty of volunteering for something because I knew it would be a good bullet. Is that wrong? I don't believe so. But I also believe it's what you do when no one is looking that ultimately defines you.

As my time at my second duty location draws to a close, I'm inclined to reflect on what change I left behind, although only a short-tour assignment. Could I have done more? What did I do differently at this base that I didn't do before? Where should I have been more involved? What clubs or organizations should I look into at my next base?

In thinking about this, I can't help but look back to a couple of groups I've come across in my short time in the Air Force, which sadly did not evoke the change, improvements or morale they could have. I have, of course, seen many organizations, clubs and units ignite amazing team spirit and companionship in their communities and fellow Airmen.

But what about those other clubs? What was holding them back?

Type "complacency" into your online search engine and you'll find the definition: "an instance of usually unaware or uninformed self-satisfaction."

Essentially, I believe they became content or "self-satisfied" with the bullet they were receiving, causing them to be "unaware or uninformed" to the opportunities around them. The chances to evoke real positive influence in each other's lives or even their communities were passed by because they weren't looking past the bullet written on the paper.

As United States servicemembers, we have already committed to one of the greatest selfless acts, a service to our country.

But I urge you to ask yourself the question, "Have I become content with the bullet?" "Am I in this for the credit or the chance to make a difference?"

Be honest, are you a bullet hog? We all know them, they show up to every meeting, every event. If there's a council or committee, they're probably on it. But what do they actually do?

Now I challenge you, and myself, to go beyond the bullet, the EPR, or the quarterly award. Ask, what now?

What change do I potentially have the power to invoke? Who could I be helping?

It's probably more than you realize. Whether an airman first class or a second lieutenant, we all have the power to evoke positive change and lend a helping hand.

True service knows no rank.

Whether you want to call it being a good Wingman, citizen or leader, I encourage us all to take a look around and open our eyes to opportunities that might be passing us by even if they don't benefit us personally.

Look beyond the bullet.