JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va.
In today’s world, there are many styles of facial hair, from mustaches, to beards trimmed, or not. Some are gown on a whim, while others choose not to shave, but for some there is a purpose.
For U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Oscar Bruck, 1st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron dedicated crew chief, his mustache not only makes him happy, but also helps raise money for non-profit organizations.
For as long as Bruck could remember, the men in his family have always had facial hair, and the tradition “grew” on him.
According to Bruck, he had a full beard since high school, which made him look older than he truly was, but the U.S. Air Force would change all that.
“In basic training, I had to shave three times a day,” said Bruck. “As soon as I graduated, I grew the only facial hair I was allowed to—my mustache.”
With his fascination for facial hair, Bruck began following the bearding community after stumbling across a freestyle beard competition. For approximately 15 years he searched for a club where he could share his passion for mustaches and beards, but his first two bases did not yield any results.
After being transferred to Langley Air Force Base in 2012, Bruck’s search for a bearding community led him to an unexpected encounter at a pet store. He met a like-minded individual who introduced him to the Hampton Roads Beard and Stache Society.
As part of the non-profit organization, Hampton Roads Beard and Stache Society, he found lasting and made numerous friendships, ranging across all the mustache and beard styles. For Bruck, he found more than a simple club, he found a cause.
“While driving, I often see people in need or homeless, and many have served our country,” said Bruck. “How can I serve them? That’s the question that drives me to compete.”
Over the past three years, Bruck has partnered with the HRBSS, participating in barbecues and different events that Vetshouse host, getting to know the men and women for who they’ve raised close to $20,000.
The club hosts their own competitions and combine their efforts with other clubs in support of ovarian cancer research and other charities like the Pink Ink Fund. The Pink Ink Fund is a non-profit organization that seeks to aide people with their post mastectomy tattoo needs as part of their breast reconstruction due to breast cancer and/or diagnosis.
In Sept. 2017, Bruck was able to compete in the World Beard and Moustache Championship in Austin, Texas, where part of the money raised went toward hurricane relief efforts in Texas.
While at the World Beard and Moustache Championship, Bruck shared the stage with his twin brother, who competes in the full beard category.
There are many categories and styles to participate in, but for Airmen like Bruck, military regulations regarding facial hair can make it feel like bringing a knife into a gunfight.
“Back in 2008 when I went to Afghanistan, you would see the Germans and other countries’ military would have beards,” said Bruck. “I would love for the military to change their ways and allow us to grow beards as long as it was professional; I would be content with a zero to two inch beard!”
Facial hair aside, there is no limitation on the impact that Airmen can have on their community and according to Bruck, there is always room to grow.