Earn That Honor, Everyday

Coraopolis -- Many of you may have already seen and read a recent letter to all Airmen - signed by Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the Air Force; General Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and CMSgt James A. Cody, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force - regarding Core Values in our Air Force. In the letter, these senior leaders remind us that what we do is more than a job. Although all of you should have received and read the letter, I feel it's an important message that bears repeating.

"Being an Airman is more than a job. When we voluntarily raised our right hands and took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, we became members of the profession of arms. Underpinning that profession is the sacred trust given to us by the American people. To meet their expectations, we must build our lives and shape our service on the foundation of our core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence In All We Do. Throughout our history as a service, Airmen with tremendous moral courage have taught us there is no replacement for virtue, character, dignity and respect. Today's Airmen--active, Guard, Reserve and civilian--must continue this tradition.

When Airmen fail to live up to our core values, the reputation of all who serve is tarnished. We must have the strength of character to do and say the right things at the right times, always with diplomacy, tact and respect. Being a wingman does not mean protecting those who lack integrity or fail to uphold the core values; it means not tolerating them. You are accountable not only for your actions, but also for failing to take action if you see bad behavior.

Today we challenge each and every Airman to reaffirm their commitment to our core values by finding new ways to live these values each and every day. This reaffirmation will strengthen the trust between Airmen, and our commitment to one another. It also reassures the American public we are worthy of their trust.

Thank you for representing the Air Force so well and exhibiting pride and courage in our service. If you have questions about our core values, please seek out guidance and assistance from people who can help: commanders, first sergeants, chaplains and inspectors general are available to provide counsel and advice. Because of who we are, and what we do, Integrity, Service and Excellence carry special meaning for all of us. Always remember that it is an honor to be called "Airman." We must earn that honor, every day."

It's not always easy, in fact it rarely is easy, to do the right thing. But when we see something wrong or we see someone doing something wrong, it's our moral obligation to do or say something; not just look the other way and ignore it. We must find that moral courage to do the right thing. As these three senior leaders have asked, I also ask that you please internalize the message and rededicate yourself to our Air Force and our Core Values.