Chief's Corner - week of Sept. 11
By Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Stratil, 4th Space Operations Squadron
/ Published September 10, 2014
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- There once was a young man with a dream, a dream to be part of something important. He worked hard to get good grades, finish school and pursue this dream. He anxiously awaited the day he would depart. When the day finally came, he traveled to a place far from home, and endured a difficult and different transition to join a special group of people. It was hard, and at times, he doubted his abilities. He kept on though, knowing he was joining a special group of people; people who stood for ideals. They traveled far and wide to defend those who could not defend themselves. They brought hope and freedom to those without it. They changed the world around them. Not everyone could be part of this group. Only 1 percent of people dared to try and succeeded. Weeks later, the young man had reached the end of his transition. He had earned his place among the ranks of this special group of people and stood at the beginning of his journey.
Months went by and the young man grew in confidence and pride. He quickly adapted and succeeded in each task placed before him. He earned the respect of his peers and the trust of his leaders. He was indeed living his dream. It seemed that nothing was impossible and everything was within his reach. Things couldn't get any better, until one night he made a choice, a choice that changed everything. Despite the strong values he believed in, he decided to bend to social pressures and made a choice to do something he knew was wrong. It was a choice that would change his life. He awoke the next day with a sickening feeling of doubt, anxiety and shame. Each day these feelings grew until one day he stood before his leaders, who questioned how he could make such a choice. His dream had been changed forever because of one choice.
How many times have we heard or seen something first hand as the situation above? Unfortunately, the story isn't far-fetched, and this scenario has happened to some Airmen. Our successes and failures come down to choices we make. While there are things outside our control, most situations fall within our ability to control. Whether we bend to social pressures, or take the higher (and sometimes rougher) path to do what is right is a choice. Making excuses or accepting accountability for our actions is also a choice. Doing what is easy versus what is correct is a choice. There are plenty of news articles about people who made bad choices. Choices are vitally important and they have lasting impact.
Air Force core values are a great source to guide our choices, as is Air Force Instruction 1-1, Air Force Standards. These documents are a result of years of wisdom and experience. They are an important part of defining who we are as Airmen. But as great as they are, no product can make your choices for you.
Fellow Airmen, you are in charge of your destiny and the choices you make. It is easy to get caught up in life's struggles and forget that we are part of an elite group of people that make a difference. We make a difference to our family, our friends, our country and our world. We provide something very sacred to our nation and others freedom. We are part of something important and bigger than ourselves. The honor of serving your nation comes with an expectation to live by higher standards. Each choice you make will decide whether you earn the title of Airman each day or fall victim to bad choices. Think about all you have accomplished and why you serve. And make good choices.