One reason why I serve

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Ted Ruminsky
  • 934th Security Forces Squadron commander
We all have our own reasons for serving our country. For most people, there are several factors that contribute to that decision. One of the things that make me proud to serve is the camaraderie I feel from being a part of something bigger than myself.
You are part of the ultimate team with a noble cause; the defense of our Republic. It becomes part of your identity. You are in elite company, with less than 1 percent of the U.S. population in uniform. As we go about our lives, we have the opportunity to meet people from all over our country that also serve or have served in the past. It's a special "team" of people with which you share a common bond. Running into a fellow vet, sharing that connection, never gets old for me.

Recently, I helped a friend of mine move into a new house. My buddy had asked several of his friends and co-workers to help in the spirit of, "many hands make light work." There was a good crowd of people helping, but I didn't know any of them other than his family members. You see, I was an "old" friend, a hold-over from his grade-school days.
We grew up across the street from each other, so we've known each other our whole lives. Everyone else helping with the move that wasn't a family member was one of his "new" friends or co-workers.

After a quick assessment of the situation, the mission of the day was clear: There were plenty of packed boxes, lots of furniture and one big (mostly empty) rental truck. It was going to be a long day. Without missing a beat, I simply fell into the flow and starting filling the truck.

It wasn't long before one of the "new" friends walked straight up to me, "Hey," he said, smiling, "I heard that you are in the Air Force." "Yes," I gave my standard response, "I work out at the Reserve base at the airport." He knew about our wing. He then proceeded to tell me that he had served in the Air Force for six years before getting out. In the blink of an eye, the relationship changed. We were no longer just strangers loading a truck. It was an instant bond based on shared experience in the service of our nation. We paired up and continued talking while we moved furniture the rest of the day. We swapped war-stories, joked and recalled experiences from our time in the Air Force. You know how it goes; you each list off your career-field, the places you were stationed and deployed to.

That drill never changes. We were no longer strangers, we were wingmen.
Under normal circumstances, I don't think money can buy that kind of initial respect and trust from someone you just met. You have to earn it. But to those of us that have served, we already have. As long as you never do anything to break that trust, nobody can ever take it away from you. You'll always have it. It is one of many reasons I am proud to serve.