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Do the right thing … even if no one is watching

  • Published
  • By Col. Gregory Gilmour
  • 315th Airlift Wing commander
It’s something that is drilled into us when we join the military – Integrity in all we do. But what does it mean to you and how do you incorporate it into all aspects of your life?

When we act honestly and adhere to a moral code based on ideas of good and bad, we are exhibiting integrity. To put it simply, integrity is choosing right over convenience or self-interest. There’s a reason the Air Force chose Integrity First as its first Core Value. Because without Integrity success is impossible.

Dwight D. Eisenhower said “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

No matter what your military job is (pilot, loadmaster, maintainer, security forces, medical, administrative, etc.), integrity should be at the forefront of all you do. You should think of integrity as much more than a minimum standard – it’s all or nothing. You either have or you don’t.

The first Air Force Core Value: Integrity First

The Airman is a person of integrity, courage and conviction.

Integrity is a character trait. It is the willingness to do what is right even when no one is looking. It is the moral compass, the inner voice, the voice of self-control and the basis for the trust imperative in today's military.

Integrity is the ability to hold together and properly regulate all of the elements of a personality. A person of integrity, for example, is capable of acting on conviction. A person of integrity can control impulses and appetites.

But integrity also covers several other moral traits indispensable to national service.

Integrity is not just an Air Force Core Value, as a former Navy pilot I can tell you it falls into the number one value “Honor.”

The first Navy Core Value “HONOR”

I am accountable for my professional and personal behavior. I will be mindful of the privilege I have to serve my fellow Americans. I will: 

Abide by an uncompromising code of integrity, taking full responsibility for my actions and keeping my word.

Conduct myself in the highest ethical manner in relationships with seniors, peers and subordinates.

Be honest and truthful in my dealings within and outside the Department of the Navy.

I challenge each of you to reevaluate how you incorporate integrity into everything you do. Whether you are a leader or not, you should demonstrate integrity in everything you do. And a good leader will take every opportunity to instill integrity and ethical values in their people.