#ThisWeek- Service

Hello dear friends! Happy Memorial Day to you all.

I was super stoked when Mandy emailed me and asked me if I wanted to guest post for her for Memorial Day using the term Service, to which of course I instantly agreed!

This particular topic is very easy for me to share with you guys because I serve every day. I serve as an Air Traffic Control Operator for the US Army, I serve as a volunteer for Cancer Research events, and I serve as a photographer for my unit. Service can mean different things to different people, and each meaning can be as important as the next.

I enlisted into the U.S. Army at 18 years old and went to basic training a month after I graduated high school. Just like my older brother before me and other friends, I knew I wanted to serve in the US Military and do my part to help serve my country.

That's me, in 2011 I was deployed to Afghanistan with my unit to serve as an Air Traffic Control Operator in RC East, near Kabul. We controlled multi-national aircraft that were assisting with Operation Enduring Freedom against the terrorists. Our job was to get aircraft from one point to another, giving them alerts of other aircraft in their flight path, giving them a reassuring helping hand when the weather got bad, as well as assisting the medical helicopters when they needed to take off in an instant! Luckily, everyone in my unit came home together in 2012, whereas other people in my brigade weren't as lucky. This deployment served to create an unbreakable bind between the fifty some odd people in that unit. We knew we could rely on each other when it was needed, we knew that there would always be someone watching our backs, and it created unbreakable friendships that still stand to this day, even though we've spread all over the country and even into Europe and Korea.

Everyone enlisted for their own reasons, some, like me, do it because they want to serve their country and help make a difference. Call it super-patriotism I guess. Some people enlisted just to get out of their small town. Some people joined, hoping to turn their life around and make a difference that way. For whatever reason, for decades, people have enlisted in the US. Military. They take an oath to serve their country, to potentially go to war in countries that hate us with a passion, knowing that they might not come home. This is how we serve our community.
Another way I serve people is through being the social media coordinator and a team captain for Relay for Life and assistance event coordinator for the Breast Cancer 5K. A lot of people all over the world have been effected by Cancer for many many years. At Relay for Life, we're walking to raise money for cancer research. I Relay for my best friend's mom who was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2014, for a girl in high school whose father passed away our senior year, for a friend I met back in 2012 who had cancer, and for the people who have cancer right now and for those that lost their battle with cancer. We want to raise money for cancer research! To inspire cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers to have Hope, to know that people care! 

2014 Breast Cancer 5K, I worked at the handmade crafts table for people to purchase goods to raise money
Another way I 'serve' is that I am the photographer for my unit, I photograph all of the events the unit has for free. I capture the memories and the camaraderie between the Service members of the unit and their families. I donate my time for my coworkers to give them good pictures at the Hail and Farewells, Promotion Ceremonies, Reenlistment Ceremonies, and even a Retirement Ceremony. I document the End of Rotation BBQ's where we present awards and celebrate another successful rotation of training NATO aviation allies.

A retirement ceremony I had the honor of photographing. The brigade commander was passing a retirement flag to a CW4 who served almost 24 years in the United States Army in Aviation.

Yesterday I combinined my love of photography and my volunteering time to fundraise money for Relay for Life 2015 by hosting mini sessions with two other photographers in my area. We're hosting mini sessions for people in the community and all the proceeds go to Relay for Life happening on 06 June. 
Thank you Mandy for asking me to host this prompt today. It was definitely fun to write and think about the different ways that I serve.
To my friends and readers- how do you SERVE?