Holiday season reflections, recommitting to live by the Air Force core values

  • Published
  • By Ron Gevry
  • 50th Space Wing Director of Staff

The holiday season provides us with an opportunity to reflect on many things, including the accomplishments of the past year and the opportunities the New Year will bring. Each of us should take time to do an end of year self-assessment to determine how we’ve done and to look for ways to do even better in the coming year.

As professional active, reserve or civilian Airmen, our self-assessment should include a consideration of how well we’ve done living up to the Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do.

Are we doing all we can to live up to these core values?  Are we encouraging those around us to do the same? All of us must work together to build and maintain the highest quality Air Force we all need and the American people deserve.

Adhering to these core values serves us well in both our professional and personal lives. “Integrityis the willingness to do what is right even when no one is looking. It is the moral compass, the inner voice; the voice of self–control; the basis for the trust that is essential in today’s military.” (Air Force Instruction 1-1) 

Integrity defines our fundamental character. It lets our fellow Airmen and wingmen know they can count on us during the most trying and demanding times.

“Integrity is the single most important part of character. It makes Airmen who they are and what they stand for, and is as much a part of their professional reputation as their ability to fly or fix jets and satellites, operate a computer network, repair a runway or defend an airbase.

Airmen must be professional, both in and out of uniform. Integrity is not a suit that can be taken off at night or on the weekend or worn only when it is important to look good. Instead, it is the time we least expect to be tested when possessing integrity is critical. People are watching us, not to see us fail, but to see us live up to their expectations. Anything less risks putting the heritage and reputation of the Air Force in peril.” (AF Core Doctrine Vol. 2)

The holiday season of giving and caring reminds us of the importance of service before self.

”Service before self tells us that professional duties take precedence over personal desires.” (AFI 1-1)

It requires each of us to look beyond ourselves to see the greater good, whether it be within larger Air Force or Department of Defense missions or the needs of our family, friends or community.

“Service before self does not mean service before family. Airmen have a duty to the service and an equally strong duty to their families. The difference is there are times when service to the nation requires subordinating the needs of the family. Airmen understand they have a duty to fulfill the unit’s mission. This includes performing to the best of one’s abilities the assigned responsibilities and tasks without worrying how a career will be affected. As professionals, they exercise good judgment while performing their duties and understand rules exist for good reason. They also understand service before self asks us to subordinate our personal interests, attitudes and aspirations to the greater cause and the demands it places on us. It means Airmen place the welfare of their peers and subordinates ahead of their own personal needs or comforts.” (AF Core Doctrine Vol. 2)

Our nation needs all of us to do our best every day to ensure we are ready and able to prevail over adversaries who threaten our way of life. We need 100 percent of our Air Force team giving 100 percent effort to meet the peer, regional and non-state threats we face around the world. Doing less places our nation, families, friends and neighbors at risk. It also means we are not providing our full measure of devotion as Airmen and ultimately means we’re failing to do our duty.

“Excellence in all we do directs us to develop a sustained passion for the continuous improvement and innovation that will propel the Air Force into a long-term, upward vector of accomplishment and performance.” (AFI 1-1)

It “demands Airmen constantly strive to perform at their best. It is a commitment to high standards and an understanding that each Airman has been entrusted with our nation’s security. Therefore, they must always strive to meet or exceed standards objectively based on mission needs and continuously search for new and innovative ways to successfully accomplish the mission. It is not only a professional obligation but a moral responsibility as well.” (AF Core Doctrine Vol. 2)

As the holidays approach, please take time to relax and enjoy the company of family, friends and neighbors. It’s a time to enjoy the magic of the holiday season, the blessings of liberty and the American way of life. All Airmen, active, reserve, civilian, must never forget our families, friends, neighbors and fellow citizens depend on all of us to serve well and faithfully and to live by the Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. Let’s all recommit to meeting the highest standards of performance and behavior since our nation is depending on us and expects no less.