Commentary

May 17, 2013

When did you learn your core values?

Col. Elizabeth Decker
6th Medical Operations Squadron commander

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Next month will mark my 24th year in the Air Force and this has given me reason to pause and reflect on my time in uniform.

Many things have changed since I graduated college and took my oath to support and defend.

Uniforms have gone through several iterations during that time. Airmen were still wearing fatigues when I joined, then BDUs and now ABUs. The fitness assessment has gone through several modifications from a 1.5-mile run, to the bike and now the more comprehensive assessment. With all that change, there has been one constant: our Air Force Core Values.

We each have a plethora of values, but some are so primary, so important to us, that in spite of the change around us they are still the core values we abide by. In an ever-changing world, core values are constant. The Air Force Core Values are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we apply to accomplish our mission. They are the basic elements of how we go about our work. They are the practices we use (or should be using) every day in everything we do.

The core values provide excellent guideposts on how to conduct our professional military lives. Because they are so closely associated with the Air Force, we don’t often think about their broader application. In actuality, they are great guides for our personal lives as well.

My daughter reminded me how this was true even for an 11-year-old when I was helping her with her homework last year. She had rushed through the writing assignment, declared she was done and went off to watch TV. I took a look at the assignment and couldn’t decipher most of it. I called her back and asked her to do it again but this time to take her time. Her face let me know that this was not part of her plan. Then I asked her if she knew the Air Force core values. She gave me another interesting look and said, “No.” I went into a discussion of the core values focusing on Excellence. In her case, incorporating excellence, or doing it right the first time, would have saved her time and a lecture. Most of us have learned lessons by making mistakes. In most cases, pausing to think about our core values would have prevented learning the lesson the hard way.

In a previous position I had the privilege of working with young Airmen right out of Basic Military Training. They had just spent eight weeks learning how to be an Airman. During our first meeting I would discuss the core values and explain how following them could guarantee their success in technical training. Integrating the core values would allow them to succeed in their courses and keep them out of trouble outside the classroom.

They needed to make the core values a way of life — both on and off duty. I had plenty of examples of Airmen that made poor decisions that could easily have been avoided if they had just taken a minute and integrated the core values into their decision making. It was important to reinforce not just what the core values are but why it is important to utilize them on a regular basis. It was rewarding to see the light bulb go on for some of those Airmen.

The Air Force will continue to see change. Who knows what future Airmen will be wearing or what their fitness assessment will include? What we do know is that our core values will continue to provide us with the foundation necessary to make the right decisions and to get the mission done.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler

40 years of Red Flag ends on high note

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler A C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., flies to the Nevada Test and Training Range during Red Flag 15-4, Aug. 25. With a...
 
 

Never underestimate your impact

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey — Every day I visit our great Airmen and every day I come across more than one that underestimates their impact to the mission. There’s the one-stripe maintainer, “just repaneling an aircraft,” for the next day’s flight, or the young personalist, “just issuing another identification card,” or the defender, “just guarding...
 
 

Challenge yourself: Never give up, never quit

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. — I once read that newly created cells in our bodies do one of two things: they either begin to decay or they become more vital. These cells choose their path based on what we demand of them. If we are sedentary, our brains signal our cells to decay; but...
 

 

SECDEF visits Nellis

U.S. Air Force photo by Lawrence Crespo U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter speaks with Airmen from Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases during an all-call at the Lightning Aircraft Maintenance Unit hangar on Nellis AFB, Nev., Aug. 26. Carter’s department is responsible for policy development, planning, resource management, fiscal, and program evaluations for the...
 
 

Air Force extends SAPR services to AF civilians

WASHINGTON — The Air Force released a policy memo today allowing Air Force civilian employees who are victims of sexual assault to file restricted and unrestricted reports with their installation’s sexual assault response coordinator. The policy is effective immediately and allows SARCs and sexual assault prevention and response victim advocates to assist Air Force civilians...
 
 

TRICARE pharmacy rules changing for maintenance, brand-name drugs

WASHINGTON — TRICARE beneficiaries who take certain brand-name medications on a regular basis will be required to fill prescriptions at a military treatment facility or through a mail-in program beginning Oct. 1, a Defense Health Agency official said here Aug. 20. George Jones, DHA’s pharmacy operations division chief, said the new policy does not apply...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>