The essentials: Personal integrity

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- I am my own responsibility.

That's a simple statement. Is it true for you?

I've been considering the comments made in a recent discussion during the chaplain's regular Public Affairs visit regarding the conflict between the wingman concept and personal integrity.

Both are necessary, I decided, but where would one be without the other? One should not rely on the wingman system alone, but have the responsibility for oneself to make sensible decisions. On the other hand, we must also have personal integrity to be a good wingman for others.

Certainly, there will be a time when we need our wingman - when we need someone to talk to, when we have questions and can't find the answers, when we need a shoulder to lean on, or when we find ourselves in a jam. Having a wingman at your side during turbulent times can be vital to ensuring a safe flight through life. However, it is sometimes more important to look inward before looking to others.

I assume that you understand yourself better than anyone else. It only makes sense.

It also makes good sense to head down the path of personal responsibility before any other, taking accountability for yourself rather than placing that responsibility on others.

The wingman is there to assist - not to lead and not to control. What we do for ourselves should count for more than what others can do for us.

My hope is that the wingman system does not become so abused by those who place blame on the wingman for not being there to thwart his or her decision to drink and drive or commit some other offensive act. I hope that such things also don't lead to the destruction of personal integrity.

Let's be proactive and prevent the corruption of the wingman system. Take it upon yourself to become accountable for your actions, learn to make decisions for yourself and take responsibility for those decisions, and ensure you place responsibility where it is deserved. This is essential in the Air Force and it is essential in life.