What we do makes an impact, was the first line on a slide Lt. Gen. Tod Wolters, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) commander, briefed from during a commander’s call on June 9. As I sat in that crowded theater, initially I was inspired.
We here at 12th Air Force have made a difference.
Since the beginning of the year, over a hundred members from 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) have already participated in a multitude of volunteer events. Together we have collected fruit, sorted through dry food, weeded gardens, painted shelters, fed the hungry, visited the sick, and provided aid to local veterans in need. We made an impact in someone’s life.
What’s even more impressive is our willingness to help when another’s life is at stake.
Over the past year there have been several instances where 12th Air Force members have provided lifesaving care to another person. Our members have performed CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, rescued people from drowning, provided medical attention to vehicle accident and heart attack victims, and rescued people from downed aircraft. Not only do we impact people’s lives, for some we have given them another day with their loved ones.
“The great thing about the 12th Air Force is 99.9% of you are doing great things,” Wolters said. “I appreciate the hard work and dedication of our Airmen.”
As awesome as we may be, often times our accomplishments and our service to others is overshadowed by the actions of a few less than honorable among our ranks.
Headlines featuring the words sexual assault, harassment, drug use, assault, murder, bribes and desertion with pictures of our fellow Airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines tarnish the reputation we have worked so hard to maintain.
What we do has an impact on the people around us, whether it’s good or bad.
“Ethical lapses happen too often,” the general added. “And it is something we have to pay attention to every millisecond of every day.”
Making ethical decisions is part of our job as members of the Armed Forces and is further reflected upon within the Air Force Core Values. There is a reason why the first core value is Integrity First.
Integrity is a character trait we all should demonstrate. It is our willingness to do what is right, even when no one is looking. It is our moral compass, the inner voice, the voice of self-control and the basis for the trust imperative in today’s military. It is the ability to hold together and properly regulate all of the elements of a personality. It is the ability to control our impulses and appetites.
The Core Values are more than just standards that we should strive for.
They should serve as a reminder of what it takes to get the mission done. They should inspire us to do our very best at all times. They should be the tie that binds us as comrades in arms, and they are the glue that unifies the Force and ties us to the great warriors and public servants of the past.
“I’m really proud to serve as your Numbered Air Force Commander,” Wolters said during his commander’s call. “I cannot believe this group of people can accomplish as much as you have.”