Putting integrity first

Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. -- Over the past few months one of the Air Force's Core Values has been in the public spotlight...Integrity First. With the recent cheating scandal at Malmstrom Air Force Base, it has become evident to even the most casual observer that Integrity was not "First" for 90 some missile officers. In his last letter before resigning, Malmstrom Air Force Base's Wing Commander posed a simple question to his wing, what if one Airman had said, "This is wrong." and reported it up the chain of command? Imagine how different the headlines and news coverage would have been. That one Airman would have shown the entire world what it means to be a member of the United States Air Force. We would have once again been highlighted for our integrity and high standards. Instead, now we are watching the news media talk about the horrible state of affairs our nuclear mission is in. Where did we go wrong?

Earlier this month, Whiteman AFB had a Wingman Day. We shut down operations for the entire day and had the opportunity to "re-blue". We re-examined the AF core values and what it means to us to be members of the United States Air Force. At one of Brig. Gen. VanHerck's commander's calls, I had the privilege to watch one young Airman stand up and talk about how military members are just "different" when compared to the rest of society. He talked about going home on leave, and people who didn't know him would come up and say, "You must be in the military," just based on how he presented himself. I believe this sums up better than any argument just how much integrity first is more than a saying, but a way of life.

The core value of integrity is not something that is tested only one time in our career. Instead it is demonstrated by every decision and action we take on a day to day basis. Integrity is how we hold ourselves whether we are out in public or when nobody is around. It's how we act when the waitress brings us the check, but we weren't billed for one of the drinks we ordered. Do we say "I believe you forgot to add a drink" or do we quietly think "Sweet, free drink!"? I believe each one of you knows the right answer, but now ask yourself, is that what I would really do?

Gen. Fogleman, former chief of staff of the Air Force, stated "The tools of our trade are lethal, and we engage in operations that involve risk to human life and untold national treasures. Because of what we do, our standards must be higher than those of society at large. The American public expects it of us and properly so. In the end, we earn the respect and trust of the American people because of the integrity we demonstrate."

Having been in the Air Force for the past 16 years, without a doubt I believe in the core values of our United States Air Force. I know as Airmen, we will again not only hold ourselves to a higher standard, but we will continue to uphold our core values and live with integrity first. This is our history and our future. Our country and its citizens not only expect it of us, but demand it of us...and We Will Not Fail!