Greater than myself: Why I wear the uniform

Airman 1st Class Xavier Brezniak is assigned to the 50th Operations Support Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Airman 1st Class Xavier Brezniak is assigned to the 50th Operations Support Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. (U.S. Air Force photo)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- I was visiting family in beautiful Venice, California, when my cousin decided to show me a famous gym that is perhaps a stone's throw away from his property. As we walked in, I stared at photos and videos of Arnold Schwarzenegger alongside other amazing bodybuilders and Olympians who have trained at this gym. I proceeded to take my wallet out and ask the gentleman behind the counter how much a one-day pass costs. He told me $20 and I, rather painfully, pulled out an Andrew Jackson. As he noticed both my military identification card and the money I withdrew while on leave, he playfully asked, "Looks like the Navy pays you pretty well, huh?" Through a chuckle and a smirk, I said, "Sir, I'm actually in the Air Force, and I don't do it for the money."

Being on the inside, we all know very well the benefits of being in the Air Force are far greater than the pay. Airmen have fallen in love with free college, healthcare and living quarters, however, these benefits are not at all why I wear the uniform. Believe me, I am beyond grateful for these amazing benefits, but when asked why I wear the uniform, my mind ventures back to when I first started wearing it during Basic Military Training. For the first week and a half, our Airman Battle Units were completely bare. If you were to pick a random civilian from around the world, he or she would be unable to tell me which branch I joined, much less which country I served. In the beginning of week two, the day came. The day we were authorized to have our name tapes sewn on to our ABUs. On the right side they put "Brezniak" and on the left, over my heart, there it was - "U.S Air Force." The real reason I wear the uniform comes from those first two letters: "U.S."

With those two letters sewn over my heart, I feel the real benefits. Every day, I put my uniform on I am able to literally see and feel, what I contribute to the country that has done so much for me. The United States of America has guaranteed me my Constitutional rights. The United States of America has granted me liberty, opportunity and freedom. I love knowing I get to go to work every day to defend these very values and rights. I truly feel like my life is invested in something greater than myself. This is why I wear the uniform.