Priming the Pump: AFSA promotes a culture of continual care

Early in my Air Force career, I was told to sign up for a professional military organization. I was stationed at McChord Air Force Base, Washington, and the Air Force Sergeants Association was the biggest and most prevalent organization on the installation.

The members were significantly involved with activities across the base and in the community, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that legacy. The members were extremely passionate about protecting and providing the best level of care for our servicemembers, and I’ll never forget Senior Master Sgt. Scott Divish’s testimony that really reinforced my commitment to AFSA:

“A young man walking for miles and miles in the desert was parched. Sure he could see water on the horizon, he kept walking so he might quench his thirst, renew his spirit and soothe his dry, chapped lips. A few times he stopped in defeat, but would rouse himself in pursuit of the water he was certain he could see.

“Finally, he found a water pump and a single glass of water with a paper on top! He rushed to pump the spigot but no water came out. Discouraged, he tossed the paper aside and drank the glass of water. It was quick relief to his parched body and his soul! Glancing at the paper that had covered the glass, he read, ‘To all of those who follow, take this glass and prime the pump, then the water will flow freely. Refill the glass and leave it for those who come behind you.’"

Well, that message sure got to me. Hundreds of thousands of brothers and sisters who came before me in the profession of arms worked hard to ensure the benefits I have today. What am I doing to protect those benefits for those who replace me?

AFSA has been integral in advocating our interests to America's elected and military leaders. Some may recall when tuition assistance was suspended four years ago. AFSA fought for its restoration.

With the fiscal constraints and constant scrutiny on spending, quality-of-life benefits and veterans programs are often at risk.

AFSA membership gives us a voice to prioritize the support necessary for those willing to die to defend our nation, and I'm so grateful for those who “primed the pump” to ensure my benefits didn’t end up on the chopping block. Professional organizations add value to our ability to serve and lead.

Of all the options of professional military organizations in the Air Force I contribute to, I’m “all in” with AFSA, and I will do my part to protect tomorrow's force. What are you prepared to do to take care of those who come after you?

(Editor’s Note: AFSA meets the first Wednesday of each month. For more information call 720-847-4616.)