Personal, professional integrity

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Theresa Cave
  • 709th Airlift Squadron commander
Do you stop at a stop sign in the middle of the night, when there are when there are no other cars around? Do you give back the extra money when a cashier gives you too much change? Do you still text while driving? These are all instances of personal integrity.

Do you make sure your uniform is pressed and properly worn? Do you salute a senior officer in the parking lot instead of staying in your car or pretending you don't see them? Do you watch out for your wingman? These are examples of professional integrity.

Our profession has taken a beating lately in the international arena with the release of the video of the Marines and the dead Afghani. I don't want to debate what happened; what I want you to ponder is why? And, what would you have done?

I am personally angry that those soldiers' actions are making the rest of the U.S. military appear unprofessional by association. We are not some ragtag militia. We are professionals. We have regulations, discipline and morals. We are better than this.

In today's hi-tech environment, there is no room for lapses in moral judgment. Almost everyone has a camera or a video camera on their phone. Social media can turn any moment into an international incident.

Our personal integrity should be there to prohibit us from acting in a way as to bring shame to ourselves. Our professional integrity should be there to prohibit us from allowing others to act in such a way as to bring discredit to our fellow military members, past and present.

Ask yourself not, "Is there any way others will find out about this?" but instead, "Is this the right thing to do?" The answer should be one you are proud of, illustrates your integrity and brings honor to our profession.