Commentary Search

T.G.I.F: Be smart this weekend

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Catherine Fahling
  • 90th Missile Wing Staff Judge Advocate
As I'm singing along to a song on the radio, I'm struck by the words coming out of my own mouth. When I actually thought about the words of this catchy song, I pondered how irresponsible conduct is often celebrated in popular culture. As the wing's senior lawyer, I offer some thoughts on just a few examples of this.

Song Lyric #1: "There's a stranger in my bed." Reality: We'll come back to this one.

Song Lyric #2: "Pictures of last night . . . ended up online." Reality: You may think that what you do in your personal life doesn't matter. If you're an Airman in the United States Air Force, that couldn't be farther from the truth. You are an Airman on and off duty. Pictures or videos of you doing something inappropriate could lead to anything from counseling to a court-martial. That last one means a federal conviction with a possibility of jail time and a punitive discharge (no Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits). Do I have your attention?

Song Lyric #3: "It's a blacked-out blur, but I'm pretty sure it ruled." Reality: See song lyric #1. Imagine waking up next to someone you don't know or you don't know beyond casual conversation. You don't remember how you ended up in this situation. The next day, you hear rumors about what happened. You don't remember. "Blacked out" is different than "passed out." When you're blacked out, you don't know what is happening during a period of time and you don't later remember what happened during that period of time. The thing is when you're blacked out, you're talking, walking, dancing, kissing - acting like everyone else around you. How is he supposed to know you don't know what's happening? Guys - if she's passed out or if you otherwise know she's had too much to drink, this is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Bottom line for everyone: Don't drink to the point that you don't know what's happening and don't take advantage of a situation you think might be wrong.

Song Lyric #4: "Warrants out for my arrest. Think I need a ginger ale. That was such an epic fail." Reality: If there's a warrant out for your arrest, a ginger ale won't cure your troubles. Being arrested and booked into a civilian jail is not a pleasant experience. If you're an Airman, your unit will be notified of the arrest, whether it's in Cheyenne, Wyo., Fort Collins, Colo., Denver, or while on leave. Having to explain to your first sergeant why you're in jail is also not a particularly good time. By the way, if you're booked into jail on a Friday, you usually enjoy a stay until Monday - at the least. You also don't get paid while you're in jail. Then there's facing the actual charges in the civilian court. If you're an Airman, your commander may also take action based on the actions that led to your civilian arrest. That could include a letter of reprimand, unfavorable information file, control roster, administrative demotion, or even discharge from the Air Force with a less than honorable service characterization (usually no Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits).

Things you hear described in a song might seem like a great escape from reality. That's not usually the case. In fact, some of these things might result in a huge dose of reality.
If you're wearing the cloth of our nation, you've chosen to live by rules that don't apply to the rest of society. You've sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. You have different rules, because what you do is different.

Don't do something stupid this Friday night that may cost you your Air Force career or more.