The Strength of Change

  • Published
  • By Chief MSgt. Russell Hastings
  • 35th Fighter Wing command chief
"Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely," said author Karen Kaiser Clark. 
As I reflect on my 28-plus years in the Air Force, I frankly wonder how I've endured. After all, in just the past 10 years, my family and I have moved seven times. I've been stationed at a remote base one time, and deployed to combat three times. I've been on temporary duty more times than I can count. My 13-year-old son has attended five different schools. My wife, who is more educated (and personable) than I, worked when the opportunity arose, and has always assisted with the needs of the communities we have lived in. In all cases, she has been overqualified and underpaid. She has always understood the difficulties of this lifestyle.

I was raised in Houston; when I joined the Air Force in 1982, I could count the number of states I'd visited on one hand. I had never been on an airplane until after I completed technical school training. In short, I was a rube.

From the beginning of my career the Air Force engulfed me in change. As soon as I became confident in maintaining C-5 Galaxy aircraft, I received orders to work on the F-4 Phantom. Likewise, as soon as I became comfortable living in the continental United States, it was time to move to Germany. Just when I thought I had the Air Force figured out, I had to go work for the Army. Change is part of my lifestyle.

Today, I believe that my success -- and my family's strength -- can be attributed to the environment of change that the Air Force fosters. My family is certainly not unique. We move around a lot just as you do. We adjust to adversity. We appreciate the good things, the small things -- because we know that we may not have them for long. All military members and their families make monumental transitions without skipping a beat -- we endure changes that would likely paralyze the average American.

This is our strength.

My challenge to you is to embrace the changes that the Air Force presents.

Welcome new practices, policies and technologies. Make an effort to connect with the Airmen around you, and cultivate new leaders -- make your subordinates better than you were. Take pride in what you and those around you have endured and will endure.

Welcome the challenge of change and the growth it affords.