The U.S. Air Force has three core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do. The Cadet Service Leadership Program "operationalizes" the Core Value of Service Before Self, transforming service from the theoretical concept of the classroom to actual hands-on experience. It also cultivates Integrity as cadets make and keep service commitments to the community and strive for Excellence in diligently meeting community needs while reaching out and lifting others in each project. The focus is Service, with the added benefit of leadership opportunity.
This primarily cadet-run program averages roughly 35,000 hours of community service each year, and our (your) cadets have worked with literally hundreds of civic and non-profit organizations in the surrounding area.
Many Cadets even donate their Spring Break "off time" to participate in Alternate Spring Break… cadets participating with Habitat for Humanity in other regions of the country.
While cadets would tell you service is first a calling and later a passion, they are rewarded for the extent of their efforts. Each year, the Airlift/Tanker association presents the Core Values Trophy to the cadet squadron with the highest tally of participation, volunteer hours and events.
Why is CSL so important?
As we stated, one of the Air Force's Core Values is Service Before Self. By participating in community service projects throughout their Academy experience, our cadets will ripen into Air Force officers committed to serving others.
How does it benefit our cadets?
- The academy is ultimately charged with commissioning leaders of character for the Air Force and the nation. Successful leaders must first know what it is to serve – willingly and with commitment. This program allows us to grow stronger, service-driven leaders.
- We cannot underestimate the tangible experiential benefits for cadets. They fill roles such as leader, administrator, organizer and community advocate…roles they will be asked to serve as officers, commanders and responsible community members.
- Along the way they practice and hone vital interpersonal and professional qualities such as integrity, initiative, drive, patience and empathy.
- Finally, each service project broadens their horizons, particularly in terms of diversity. The opportunity to work with people with diversified backgrounds, skillsets and paradigms, teaches our future leaders to recognize the challenges and harness the benefits of diversity in the work environment.
How does it benefit the community?
The cadets compete on a national basis to win appointments to the AF Academy. The screening process is very competitive. In general, most cadets have the academic prowess, physical strength and athletic skills, and leadership qualities to attend any college or university in the nation where they desired to apply. Coupled with this we've found most are motivated by a strong desire to serve their country and community. These cadets also bring 1-4 years of academic training in anything from Electrical Engineering to Aviation and American Politics , from Chemistry to Self Defense and Computers, from Anatomy to Equestrian know how, into play. Our challenge is to harness that vast potential energy and focus it in service to others in the process of building leaders of character…your challenge is to seek ways to help your organization serve the community better, and make the community better by directing where that energy can be used to best help those in need. It's totally a win/win proposition, and it strengthens the bond between the academy and the community, while making both elements better.