‘An uncomfortable time to be a civil servant’

  • Published
  • By Kevin O'Connor
  • Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex vice director
I'll say it ... this is an uncomfortable time to be a civil servant. Six days of furlough this past summer, sequestration, government shutdown, debt ceiling impacts - it makes me uncomfortable just writing about it.

We may be frustrated with the current situation in Washington; actually, to be blunt - I am really concerned with what's going on in Washington.

This is affecting you and me personally ... our pay, the stability of our careers, and the uncertainty of our future. To be honest, I had just come to grips with 'putting the six days of furlough' behind me.

And, now that we've gotten past the shutdown and the debt ceiling mess, the question in my mind is, "What's next?"

But, if I really look at myself in the mirror - and every morning you and I do just that - and, if we're really honest with ourselves, if we strip away all of the current discomfort: We do what we do because we are obliged to do it.

Long before the current political turmoil, somewhere in our hearts, we made a choice to respond to an unstated obligation to serve our country as civil servants.

This is an obligation to all who have come before us, in all areas and all ranks of government ... and especially to the men and women in uniform - many of our own family, friends and neighbors - who have given so much for our country ... most recently the 6,748 service members who have lost their lives since 9/11, and the 51,587 service members who have returned wounded.

All of our recent improvements across this center and all of our continued efforts to improve our operations make this country better.

Every time we streamline an operation, reduce flow days and reduce our costs, we're making a direct impact on the effectiveness of our Air Force and our country. I'm not just talking about improving our ability to put bombs on targets, protect our service members, or deter our enemies; I'm also talking about the business side of our operations - cost effective readiness - doing our parts to improve the financial standing of the Air Force, the Defense Department and our country.

Yes, it's an uncomfortable time to be a civil servant, but I'm doing what I am obliged to do. It's well documented that chasing meaning in life leads to more happiness than avoiding discomfort - the meaning of what we do, the importance of what we do - no one can take that away from you, me or any other civil servant working for the United States Air Force.

So as far as answering the question, what's next? In Washington, I have no idea. For me, I refuse to let the turmoil in Washington define me as an employee. It won't affect my dedication, my commitment, nor am my attitude ... I still immensely proud of what I do for the Air Force and for our country.

20 years of civil service ... and counting!