Focusing on all the important things

Andrews Air Force Base, Md -- It seems like this year just started, but it's almost over. AFOSI has been very busy this year with the command's 60th Anniversary celebrations, with a plentitude of complex investigations, with deployments, with BRAC progresses and with travel and training commitments.

And let's not forget the dynamics brought about by an ongoing and very demanding war, a presidential election, a new administration, political violence across the globe as just witnessed in India, a very tough economy and many other uncertainties facing all of us in the future.

Excellence

Substantial changes in the Air Force and Defense Department have made us examine all aspects of the command to ensure that we are doing things smartly, efficiently and in the best interest of the Air Force and DoD.

We are and will continue to do better. I am proud of the Excellence displayed by our 3,200 men and women on a daily basis.

I saw it recently at units throughout our country, in the Pacific, in Europe, and most recently in Southwest Asia. The creativity, perseverance, and tenacity you exhibit is the driving force behind AFOSI's success. But we cannot rest yet.

Integrity

You have heard me say it before. We must continue to change, adapt and evolve alongside the Air Force as it continues to transform to address new threats and challenges to the security of our nation in the future.

AFOSI must stay flexible without sacrificing its reputation as a professional organization.

No doubt, it's going to be tough for all of us. But, we can adapt through flexibility, creativity and through our relationships with other national and international counterpart agencies.

We should take note of Senator Arlen Specter's (a former AFOSI agent) Congressional record remarks commemorating our 60th Anniversary this past year.

"Since 1948, AFOSI has evolved to meet the changing needs of the Air Force. The command has matured into a highly effective war-fighting unit while maintaining the standards and integrity of a greatly respected federal law enforcement agency."

While our budget might be shrinking, our mission and ourreputation within DoD and across all the other federal agencies has never been stronger due to your continuing efforts. Our organizational integrity is only as good as each member's personal integrity.

Continue to be a force for good, follow the rules in the wake of turmoil and stand your ground when necessary. I am pround of you.

Service

It's time again to stop and remember that we are still a nation at war.

Because of this, during this holiday my first thoughts continue to be for the safe return of all our deployed AFOSI members. I hope all of you to do the same. Service before self shows that the true meaning of the holidays can be found many ways all year long.

There are more than 220 AFOSI personnel deployed around the world as I write this. They are brothers and sisters, moms and dads, uncles and aunts, good friends, spouses, grandchildren and even grandparents.

They represent the very fiber this country stands for.

Certainly the holidays can be a hectic and energetic time. Last-minute mall runs, frantic all-night bake-a-thons, or the dizzying whirlwind of parties can leave us all exhausted.

However, we all know that while the holidays are crammed with these things, the true meaning is found elsewhere.

I thank these men and women for their service and those who have served before them and those who will serve next. I am touched by the selflessness you all display.

No matter if you are deployed or a family member of a deployed AFOSI member, you may find just a little comfort in the following words written by an unknown author.

"If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep... you are richer than 75 percent of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace... you are among the top eight percent of the world's wealthy.

If you woke up this morning with good health, you are more fortunate than the million people who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle unfolding all around you, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation... you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of persecution, harassment, arrest, torture, or death... you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all."

One unique thing I've learned about AFOSI personnel is our ability to adapt to new situations at a rapid pace. You might be far from home during the holidays, but you are certainly among family no matter where you are.

For those of you who are deployed and cannot spend the holiday with your families back home, try to enjoy a great holiday season with your fellow AFOSI brothers and sisters, as well as other deployed service members.

I am keenly aware of all of your sacrifices. I know the toll this career can take on your family and friends especially during the holidays. I also ask all to remember our fallen and wounded warriors and their families too.

Susan and I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season. For those who can be with family and friends this year, enjoy that blessing.

And please remember, some of your co-workers aren't so blessed this year, so keep them in your thoughts and prayers as you celebrate the season and usher in the new year.