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Equality; How Do We Get There?

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

There’s been a lot of discussion lately on equality. In fact, I’ve engaged with several of you over the last few weeks discussing this topic, among many others. Equality is a word with many different meanings, depending on who you talk to. My belief is that equality gets to the point that we all are afforded the same rights and opportunities. How each one of us interprets equality depends greatly on a few things; our experiences, culture, and how we were raised. Equality is something that no one should have to earn or pay for. It should be a right that everyone enjoys. Throughout our history we have seen many good and bad examples of how equality has been provided, abused, and hijacked for many varied reasons. How do we ensure equality is guaranteed in our Force? Let me give you a few suggestions.

I’ll lay out two examples of how I ensure equality is provided to every member of Team 908th. One is the Air Force Core Values and what they mean to me and the other are some personal values I try to apply in my everyday life to each one of our teammates.

First, I would refer you back to the Air Force Core Values, Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. Think for a moment about what those core values mean to you. To me, Integrity First is doing the right thing when no one else is looking, and standing on your personal and professional convictions to do what is right, even when the rest of the world is against you. That’s where you make your money as a leader, through integrity. When I think about Service Before Self, I think about what I can do for the enterprise, and those who make it up, before I do things for myself. In other words, am I always looking out for number one or am I continually looking for ways to ensure that I am serving others and the Air Force? It’s a fine line to have to manage, but it can be done with a little mentorship and experience. Lastly, I see Excellence in all we do as a standard that has to be met in order for the mission to be successful. If we only give minimum effort of what we are capable of doing, we are not living up to that last core value. It reminds me of the old saying, doing something the easy way isn’t always the right way. However, if we give everything we have, the results will be both equality for everyone and mission success. If these core values are truly taken seriously, equality comes easy to the individual.

Secondly, I would like to remind you of are a few additional standards I apply to my life to ensure everyone is treated equally. I first look to my four pillars of personal beliefs. These are the beliefs I remind myself of every day. In fact, every new basic trainee we send off to basic training hears these words from me. With every word you speak and every action you take, be moral, be ethical, be legal, and be professional. If you can uphold these four pillars of personal beliefs, you will do great things during your career and ensure that equality is provided to everyone you serve with. Sounds easy, right?  Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. If you’ll notice, each one of those words deals with you, the individual, and how you interact with your teammates. Routinely include these standards in your lives and in your conversations with others.

In closing, I would like to challenge you to take time to talk to one another and to discuss the core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do; and about what it means to be ethical, moral, legal, and professional in our words and actions. If you will spend time with your teammates discussing these areas, you will have a better understanding of equality and how it affects our force. My door is always open for discussion on these or any other topic that you would like to talk about. I’ve challenged you to begin that conversation, it’s your turn to challenge me!!!