An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

A Culture of Responsible Choices

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Mylinda Morris
  • 43rd Medical Group
There is a push out there to help our folks make responsible choices. The reason is we have seen a disappointing increase in safety incidents, substance abuse related incidents, assaults and suicides. 

The Air Force has a significant population of people in the 18 to 24 year old age group -- our "high-risk" group. 

The Air Force attracts smart, young people looking to gain job experience and education. When I meet with our first term Airmen, they tell me they enlisted because they want to serve their country or get an education. Not all of them came in with guaranteed jobs or got the jobs they hoped for. They are all hoping to build a successful future. 

Our Airmen are faced with choices every day. I tell them to choose wisely when it comes to how they present themselves; how they live in their dorms or homes; how they interact with supervisors and peers; how they manage their finances; how they behave ... or don't. I like to tell them one of the most important choices they make is the company they keep. 

There is such a thing as "guilt by association." If they surround themselves with mature people who make responsible choices, they are more likely to make responsible choices themselves. If they surround themselves with hard partiers who have no goals or make frequent bad decisions, they are more likely to make irresponsible choices themselves. They can have fun and still be responsible. We are all always accountable for our behavior. 

Being the best you can be is not just a slogan. It means setting goals and achieving them. It means challenging yourself with new goals when you reach the old ones. It means taking the core values seriously. If you are the best Airman or lieutenant you can be by meeting standards for dress and appearance, learning your job, and being a part of the team, you will set yourself up to get the opportunities for greater responsibility in education and promotion you desire. 

We have chosen a stressful lifestyle. Being at war now for three years running means many of us are back and forth to the desert every 120 days. It makes bill paying, relationships and job performance stressful. It takes up much of our play time. It makes it harder to get and maintain meaningful relationships with our family and friends. 

Every day we have to make tough choices between personal life and mission; between our goals and our jobs. Sometimes we could use a little help. Agencies such as Military One Source, life skills, ADAPT and the health and wellness center, chaplains, and the Airmen and Family Readiness Center (formerly the Family Support Center) are all available to help. Exercise not only relieves stress, it can help with depression. Supervisors and mentors can also help you make responsible choices. It's about looking ahead and thinking a thing through to the possible consequences. It's about looking at your values and acting in accordance with what you deem important. 

Those in the high risk age group tend to make a mistake in thinking bad things won't happen to them. They may make serious mistakes in judgment or in believing they are invincible or untouchable. They sometimes make impulsive decisions without thinking through the consequences ... or they may just not think. It's our job to educate, to encourage, and to guide our young folks to responsible choices. 

They are faced with hard choices sometimes and we need to help to make them successful. Sometimes that means giving them that tough wake-up call. Most people want to be successful and just need a little direction. Responsibility means being accountable for your choices and decisions. Making the right decision isn't always easy, but making responsible choices will keep us safe.