Are you MAD or SAD?

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash -- There are two distinct types of Airmen who serve: those who are here to Make a Difference (MAD) and those who are Selfish and Distracting (SAD).  Each of us was equipped to be MAD once we graduated initial military training and our various technical training schools; we had the basic skills in our respective career fields to be successful Airmen.  We were ready to take on any challenge placed before us.  Unfortunately, many of us can think of someone who didn't make it to their first duty station for committing one or more selfish acts.  I call those individuals SAD Airmen. Unfortunately, SAD Airmen can be found in any stage of an individual's military career.

SAD Airmen distract us from our daily Air Force mission.  They distract us from taking care of the other 90 percent of Airmen and their families. They diminish our resources and steal our joy.  As a first sergeant, I've heard it said many times from various Airmen, "Why are we getting the same briefing again and again: deal with those who get in trouble and let us go our merry way."  Yes, that would be easy to do until the next safety violation, alcohol-related incident, domestic disturbance, or sexual assault takes place.  Many times, I've also heard, "First Sergeant, he is a good guy, a true Wingman, our best technician.  He just made a mistake."  Let's be clear: there is a huge difference in making a mistake and committing a crime.  More often, SAD Airmen already know their poor judgment or criminal activity could lead to disciplinary actions.  Furthermore, I would venture to say the majority of SAD Airmen once thought, "That will never happen to me."

So, what makes great Airmen become SAD?  For different reasons, they lost sight of the reason why they joined the Air Force.  They lost that great sense of pride, belonging, and accomplishment they had when they walked across the parade ground.  Their lapse in judgment caused them to forget they are Airmen at all times, not just during duty hours.  They lost sight of our basic Air Force Core Values: Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do.  Yes, most of them can recite the Core Values without hesitation, but the importance of these values did not resonate enough for them to uphold military standards.  Time and time again, we look at supervisors as the root cause of SAD Airmen.  However, just as each of us independently raised our hand as we recited our oath of enlistment, we must take personal responsibility for our own actions.

Let's reflect on what it means to be a MAD Airman.  You took an oath to protect and defend our American freedom and agreed to live by a set of military rules and standards.  You are part of a great brotherhood that has stood the test of time from MAD Airmen like Gen. Carl A. Spaatz, the first Air Force Chief of Staff, and Chief Master Sgt. Paul Airy, the first Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, to Senior Airman Dustin Temple, who recently received the Air Force Cross Award for valor while saving 38 lives during a battle in Afghanistan in 2014.  MAD Airmen embody our Core Values and live by our Airman's Creed.  They have respect for authority, themselves, and others at all times.  MAD Airmen fully embrace our higher standards 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. MAD Airmen understand that being a Wingman is more than a cliché.  MAD Airmen do not accept the minimum, but strive for the best at all times.  MAD Airmen are always looking for ways to improve themselves, their families, friendships, work centers and local communities.  MAD Airmen choose to be MAD Airmen at all times!

So I ask you, "Are you MAD or SAD?"