Integrity -- more than just a word

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Brian Lavoie
  • 28th Operations Support Squadron Radar Approach Control chief controller
Integrity First is one of our core values. All Airmen are expected to know and live by this and the other two core values: Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do.

While raising my three boys, I often thought about what they saw me do. What kind of example would I set for them if I didn't live my life with integrity? I'm not taking any high moral ground here; I'm just stating that I chose to think before I made a decision or took some action. I believe that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking.

The problem I see in my environment is many Airmen don't appear to care if someone is looking or not. For example, Air Force bases worldwide have instituted the "no cell phone use while driving" rule. When was the last time you saw someone driving with a cell phone up to their ear or maybe texting while driving? I see it everyday. It seems to me that these Airmen may not be living the Air Force core value of Integrity First. These individuals made a personal decision to not follow the "no cell phone" rule. We can all think of many examples similar to this one.

I have been involved with Boy Scouts of America for more than 15 years. I have taught many scouts the Boy Scout Law. One of the 12 laws is that a scout is trustworthy. He tells the truth, is honest, keeps promises and can be counted on. When scouts are on outings and in uniform, people expect them to demonstrate these traits. Wouldn't you expect them from a Boy Scout? If we agree to have that expectation of a group of 11 to 18-year-old young men, what expectations should we have for ourselves?

I believe our Air Force could operate more effectively if all Airmen would choose to live the Air Force core value of Integrity First. Integrity is about your character; it's about choosing to do the right thing all the time, because it is right. Americans expect us, as members of the Air Force, to demonstrate integrity in our work, personal lives and interactions with others.

Integrity is a personal decision. Integrity doesn't stop at the gate or when you take your uniform off. Integrity is with you 24/7. What will you choose to do with this core value?