|Don't Give Up on Dreams |
Don't Give Up on Dreams
By Chaplain (Col.) Katherine Shindel, 1st Fighter Wing chaplain.
Langley Air Force Base, Virginia -- April 13, 2001 (ACCNS) -- Twenty-one years ago, I was a brand new Air Force chaplain wondering what I had gotten myself into.
As I was trying to figure out how to survive in the Air Force, my co-workers were trying to figure out what to do with me. I was only the ninth woman to enter active duty as a chaplain.
The reactions varied from "Wow, a woman chaplain," to "Gee, I've never seen a woman chaplain before," to "You don't belong here!"
While all I wanted to be was a chaplain, there were people who saw me as only a woman. When I moved into one base, the senior chaplain took everything related to women, children and sick people from the other chaplains' job descriptions to build a woman's job for me.
The odds that I would survive to make major were questionable; yet, here I am as a colonel. I've made it this far because of the people who believed in me and because of the lessons I've learned:
- 1. Don't give up in the face of hardship. Hard times drive us deep into ourselves to make us focus on what is most important. Hard times make us stronger.
- 2. Don't let others define you as less than you are. Remember that you are a unique individual of invaluable worth. Believe in yourself.
- 3. Don't think you can make it by yourself. We belong to a team. The synergy of a team is stronger, smarter than any of its individual members.
- 4. Mentor your young airmen and officers. They depend upon you to teach them the Air Force. Help them succeed, for they are our future.
- 5. Respect those who are different from you. When we give freedom to others, we are able to enjoy the same freedoms ourselves. Diversity is one of our greatest strengths in America.
- 6. Don't be silent when someone else is put down in your presence. Racism and other forms of discrimination continue because good people are silent. Each of us needs to ensure that everyone in our presence is treated as a valuable member of the Air Force.
I am very grateful for all the opportunities I have been given. Now it is my responsibility to extend those opportunities to others. I invite you to join me as we work to make our Air Force stronger and better than when we joined it. The defense of freedom depends on us.