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The DUI Core

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- This base has a problem that we've all heard about. It's been recounted, reiterated and retold to us by our section leaders, squadron commanders and the wing commander until they are blue in the face and frustrated.

It's a problem that affects every Airman- from the lowest-ranking to the commander and all of our families.

We've heard and read the statistics; we've seen the results and are reminded of it every time we drive through the Patriot gate. I'm referring to the epidemic of poor decisions people have made that resulted in driving under the influence charges.

Now, it would stand to reason that considering the number of briefings we've had on DUI's, we would realize that the board we pass by every day at the Patriot gate confirms something is horribly wrong. Yet, it keeps dropping down to zero again and again. How many times must we drive past that board and never see it go 30 days before doing that? It's unsettling to me that I can't remember the last time I saw the base go a considerable amount of time before someone received a DUI charge.

Remember Integrity

When was the last time any person caught while driving under the influence cracked open a copy of a little blue book entitled U.S. Air Force Core Values? If they had, perhaps they would have realized that a single DUI goes against every aspect of these core values. According to the book, under the section Integrity First, it states: "Integrity is the ability to hold together and properly regulate all of the elements of a personality. A person of integrity can control impulses and appetites."

Driving under the influence is an impulsive decision and displays a failure to control that impulse. I don't believe anybody goes out with the premeditated thought of driving under the influence.

How about Service before Self

This section specifically brings up "appetites" under the subtopic: "Discipline and self-control." It references alcohol in the following way, "...Likewise, the excessive consumption of alcohol casts doubt on an individual's fitness, and when such persons are found to be drunk and disorderly, all doubts are removed."

How true is that? When was the last time you went drinking with friends, and a couple six-packs later-if not more- you're all trashed, talking loudly and making fools of yourselves? What kind of discipline is that? If you're called into work, how prepared will you be to adhere to this core value in the physical and mental state you're in?

Let us not forget Excellence in All We Do

I strongly believe that we are the best Air Force in the world, not because of the technology we possess, but because of this core value and its relation to every Airman in the service. We have the best Air Force in the world because we have Airmen who embrace this core value and in doing so, bring the best their career has to offer to the fight.

However, there is nothing "excellent" about an Airman getting a DUI. There is no direct reference to alcohol in the little blue book for this core value. However, its overall description should leave nothing to doubt as to where alcohol lies in relation to its definition and what it charges us to do: "Excellence in all we do directs us to develop a sustained passion for the continuous improvement and innovation that will propel the Air Force into a long-term, upward spiral of accomplishment and performance."

How can you adhere to any of these core values when you're trashed and endangering every other person on the road by making a bad decision? You cannot give your excellence when your excellence has been compromised by a poor decision.

This base has a problem; a problem we already know exists. A problem we can't just turn a blind eye to. We need to watch out for each other, and realize that one DUI doesn't just make the receiving squadron look bad; it makes the base, the Air Force and every Airman serving selflessly for this country look bad.