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Airmen Messengers

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Imagine this: you've just seen the turn of a new year in the history of a relatively young nation. You are a member of its military. The branch you serve operates in air, space and cyberspace arenas using some of the most advanced and influential technologies the world has ever seen. You make up that all-volunteer force, which is an elite 0.2 percent of the nation's populace. The year is 2009, this nation, the U.S., is at the dawn of its 233 year of existence and you're an Airman. 

For many, this "imagined" situation is an obvious reality, another familiar time of year doing a familiar sort of job. Yet the stories so many of us live everyday are amazingly alien to many outside the military. Whether you're an Offutt Airman, Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Guard member, civilian, contractor, retiree, or a family member, you're a character on this page in history. And you have a story to tell. 

A large part of my job in public affairs is "messaging." Public affairs personnel disseminate important information to both the civilian and Team Offutt communities through a variety of means, many of which you are probably very familiar: the Offutt Update, E-News, the Offutt website, marquees and other products. But perhaps the most important type of "messaging" we do is telling others, particularly those outside the military, the stories of our Airmen and military counterparts. 

Unfortunately, our stories only reach so far and, frankly, we need help. By sharing your experiences and telling your story, you can have an unimaginable effect on our audience. Not only do individual stories help put a face, a person, to an otherwise faceless organization, they also resonate with people. 

The stories offer a glimpse into an otherwise foreign world and are mediums of knowledge. They entertain, educate and bring people together. They have been used as a communication tool since humanity's inception and they continue to be the best vehicle for "messaging." 

And the message? It's simple: to tell the story of our men and women in and out of uniform. By far the most effective "messengers" are those that carry their Air Force message with them daily. These are the folks, who upon being stopped in the grocery store, are more than willing to share their thanks, thoughts and experiences with those around them. 

In an age of Twitter, Facebook, texting, email and cell phones, the most meaningful method of communicating continues to be face to face interactions. Telling your story is an easy and extremely powerful way to show others about the Air Force. In an environment where most people outside the military merely hear the Air Force mentioned in relation to military budget priorities, we owe it to our neighbors to express our thanks for their support and share a part of our world with them. 

Our missions are as varied as the hues of our Airman Battle Uniform tops and bottoms. We share, though, a common code. Embodied by the way we live our lives, typified by how we conduct business, and emboldened in our solemn vow to defend this nation, our stories together bound by our core values form the overall Air Force story. We 0.2 percent of the U.S. population, in this time of drastic and historic change, owe it to our neighbors and ourselves to make our stories known.