Personal accountability begins with you

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joseph Kapinos
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The other day I was looking on my previous base's Web site and I read a story about an Air Force master sergeant who pled guilty and was court-martialed for driving under the influence. Evidently, this individual thought it was a good idea to drink an entire 12-pack of beer and then get behind the wheel of his pickup truck. A person saw him swerving along the road until he was stopped by the highway patrol. The officer found him with an open container and a test found him having a blood alcohol content reading of .27. Three times the state's legal limit! That is terrible in itself, but not the worst part. 

The worst part was this was this person's third DUI as a member of the United States Air Force. 

This is not a mark against the military legal system. I am quite certain the professionals involved meted out justice according to the regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This commentary is aimed more to us as a whole: Are we doing all we can to hold ourselves accountable and to hold others accountable as well? Are we ready as individuals and as a service to fly, fight and win? Hard to believe we are with an example such as this. 

One of our core values is "Integrity First." Integrity is defined by Merriam-Webster® as a "firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic value." A more simplistic definition is one I heard a couple years ago: "Doing what is right when no one is looking." Making up part of our integrity is having personal accountability. We should be held accountable for our actions, both good and bad. You have to ask the question: Are you doing everything you can to ensure your work center is doing everything it should? Are your binders up to speed? Are your people doing everything according to the regulations? Ultimately, the question becomes one of a personal nature. Are you doing things as you should? 

We need to answer "yes" to all of those questions because at any time, we may be called away for a tasking or a deployment. It is our obligation to be ready at all times. It is up to us to ensure we are aware of the close-out date for our evaluations, if our medical clearances are up to date and if we are physically fit to take on the challenges this nation faces. With fewer personnel, we have to be more responsible for our own personal readiness, and more importantly, we have to be held more accountable for our actions. Accountability doesn't mean only answering for the bad, it also means being ready for the good. 

We are at a difficult time as a service. Our nation's economy is facing troubles that haven't been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Budgets are down while commitments are up. With all the stressors of long duty days and deployments, we need to tighten up how we do business and not lose focus on what we do every day. Our nation looks to us as a military to be a cut above the rest of the country and simply stated: We are. But we are held to that standard because of our integrity and our own personal accountability. Whether it's making sure your ID card stays safely protected and out of the hands of the "bad guys," making sure you attend your PT sessions, or stepping up and accepting responsibility for making a bad decision, we need to have that integrity. 

If we lose that, we lose everything.