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Proven Air Force Core Values

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- -- The Air Force Core Values were established for us as a guiding light along a path that is of a higher standard than other professions because of the awesome power and responsibility entrusted to us by the American people.

Under the veil of Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do, is our own personal interpretation of what each of these means. Here is my interpretation of each and the proven power of its outcome.

Integrity First allows you to act on your conviction, always do what is right, just and equitable, and put aside personal impulses.

It is a compass that can point in four directions; moral, ethical, legal and professional. If your next decision cannot point to all four, not simultaneously, then it ought to be adjusted. Consider the consequence of "harmless experimenting." Many years ago, I was selected as a juror for a court-martial for a member with almost 20 years of service who was convicted for smoking marijuana.

One day while off duty, he was walking through a back alley when he saw a discarded end of a marijuana cigarette by a dumpster. He knew what it was, but had never tried it. He decided to take just one "harmless" drag, just for the experience. A couple days later, he was selected for random urinalysis and summarily caught.

The conviction resulted in his discharge just a couple months before completing 20 years, costing him some of his reputation and the benefits that come with completing 20 years of Air Force service. Truly, integrity is about doing the right thing--even when no one is looking.

Service Before Self puts duty before desire and emphasizes respect for others and self-control.

I envision this as a triad called "full-spectrum service" where each third includes doing your duty, helping your fellow Airman and contributing to the community; for example the recently completed Combined Federal Campaign for charities.

With regard to helping Airmen, let us consider the importance of ensuring the best annual performance reports are written.

Last year, I met the Force Shaping board along with 67 other fellow cyber-officer eligibles and 33 percent of us had to be let go. Of my 13 years in, nine lines from my past officer performance reports was all I could express about myself.

In the end, I was retained because supervisors before me took the time and care to craft the very best, hard-hitting bullets for my annual OPRs. Those supervisors unwittingly saved my career.

Excellence in All We Do means more than giving our best. It includes doing better in the future, both in personal development, such as mental, physical, financial and spiritual, and professional contribution.

Let us consider the ultimate value of physical fitness. I have been running and weight lifting on my personal time since high school, 18 years ago. When I arrived here in June from Langley, I drove 4,000 miles. After arrival, I had shortness of breath and my left calf expanded two inches. Turns out blood clots formed in my leg and spread to both my lungs as a result of not enough walking during the breaks in my drive. Doctors said if it was not for my off-duty investment in physical training, I would've died a month after taking command. My desire to score 100 every year on my physical training test led to all my off-duty exercise which literally saved my life.

In summary, personal interpretations of our Core Values vary and that is okay because there are many ways to achieve one objective. I fashioned mine because I find my interpretation most effective. And as I continue to learn how others apply them, I will incorporate their "best practices" into mine. Our Core Values ensure you keep to the higher-standard road and may enable the rescue of your career or even your life! Learn it, live it, love it and lead it to those who lack it.