By Staff Sgt. John Bainter, 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 15, 2013
HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. --
-- Are certain people drawn to the Air Force because we already possess many of the core values deep down inside of us? As Airmen we constantly hear about our core values; Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence In All We Do. These values are constantly reinforced throughout our Air Force career, but for the first time since I swore to live by those values, I sat down to reflect on what these values mean to me.
It was during my time of reflection that I realized I had been living with the Air Force core values long before I ever raised my right hand to enlist. It made me ask the question, 'are the family values we are raised to believe what drives us to succeed and continue to be excellent in all we do?' I can only speak for myself when I say yes, it's my inherent character that led me to accept the challenge and continue to thrive as an Airman.
I do believe it is possible for many people who may not have a system of core beliefs to adopt the U.S. Air Force core values, but only with an open mind. I maintained an open mind coming into the service and at the time felt like I was doing it out of necessity. As time passed, I felt that I truly belonged here. I felt the satisfaction of not only fulfilling the mission, but also laying down a moral structure for my family and sharing the values that I have grown to hold so dear to my heart.
Integrity has always been an extremely important part of my moral beliefs. My parents instilled in me the importance of honesty and truth. Integrity was a part of my life long before I entered the Air Force, which I believe has a great deal to do with my success as an Airman. I lead as a NCO, and do my job not for merit or accolades, but because of the ideals instilled in me since childhood.
There was a time when Service Before Self never would have crossed my mind. I realize now I chose service before self the day I set foot in my recruiter's office. I thought I signed away my freedom. In reality, I never had my freedom until I signed those papers that day. As a civilian I always felt the need to adapt and modify myself or my behavior to fit into my surroundings. It wasn't until I chose to serve that I was truly free to be myself and felt supported by my peers.
I can say that Excellence In All We Do definitely didn't take effect until I joined the Air Force. My life was littered with missed opportunities and a mediocre work ethic. The Air Force gave me the chance to be proud of my work. It also let me understand that my work had a great impact on our mission capabilities and what it is to represent excellent in all I do. As an Airman I can't accept anything less than excellence. As an NCO I expect nothing less than excellence from the Airmen I supervise. As a father the same principles ring true. I expect excellence from my Airman and children because that is what example I strive to set for them.
I truly believe that many of the men and women attracted to the military already have these core values. I was attracted to the military because the strength in my values is only magnified by being a part of something greater than myself and beneficial to society as a whole.
I hope that someday my children will proudly display Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence In All We Do. Not because their dad was in the Air Force, but because those are the values I truly live by and try to instill in them. I would be proud to see my children join the Air Force, but even if they don't it's far more important to me to see that they carry on the values that the Air Force represents and pass them on for generations to come. They are not just the Air Force core values; they are my values and what I truly believe in.