What are your values?

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Many of us in uniform have traveled the world and have been introduced to different cultures, but have you noticed different values of the world? I was very fortunate to be raised by a wonderful family that taught me a value system. The Air Force also teaches values in AFPAM 36-2241, Professional Development Guide, as an ethical value system: honesty, integrity and loyalty. When I joined the United States Air Force I began an adventure of service and sacrifice, which also allowed me to expand my value system. I'm writing this to challenge you to seek and ponder your values.

I find that life is much easier when I follow tried and true values. For example, honesty is being truthful, straightforward and candid. Unfortunately, I have met people that have lied about their past and cannot remember which lie they told to whom. So, more lies are created to backup the previous lies. So, can lying get complicated? You bet! Have you ever been caught in a lie? It can be embarrassing and frankly disappointing. How do I know? I'm not perfect. As a teenager I lied to family and friends thinking it would impress them. Trust me, it doesn't.

How about integrity? AFPAM 36-2241 states integrity is being faithful to one's convections by following principles, acting with honor, maintaining independent judgment and performing duties with impartiality. Some years ago I sat on a jury for a master sergeant that was caught with marijuana. He had 19 and half years in the Air Force with plans of retirement. He later told the judge that he had been smoking marijuana for the past 13 years and thought he would never get caught. His punishment was a reduction to senior airman and a dishonorable discharge. How do you think his wife and three kids felt afterword? Not only had his selfish act destroyed his career, but his family's as well.

Lastly, loyalty -- fidelity, faithfulness, allegiance and devotion -- are all synonyms of loyalty. Are you loyal to your family, co-workers, country or how about yourself? In the military we are taught from day one to be loyal to our wingmen, leaders and ourselves. We depend on one another to make the mission happen. If I cannot trust you now how I am going to trust you when it matters? How many times have you complained about an order from a supervisor? I believe we all have been there. It can be tempting to belittle the person or decision, but the unique job we have in the military is to be loyal and follow lawful orders. I had a boss that allowed me to disagree with him behind closed doors but once a decision was made we were a united front to the squadron. Our nation depends on your loyalty.

Over the next week reflect on what are your values. How are you going to practice those values? In today's climate our nation needs you and your unique value system to make it better for your children and their future.