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Airmen’s actions: greater consequences

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Chris Barnard
  • 90th Medical Group
This week has been a challenging week for me in the 90th Medical Group. We lost two of our young Airmen because of their own bad choices. When I say lost them, it is in the sense that they are no longer contributing to the mission as a result of bad conduct discharges and no longer productive members of our wing, Air Force Global Strike Command and our Air Force family. Our military judicial systems works and it works well.
These two Airmen were selfish and put our core value of "Service before Self" on the back burner; for them it was "Self before Service."

It has been a week that has caused me to reflect on how I'm doing as a leader. Not because they got caught, but because when I look at the potential these young Airmen had, I can't help but wonder where I could have had a more positive influence on them to make better choices. I sit down and meet with each and every enlisted Airman who enters our group and talk about standards, choices and consequences. During my in-processing meetings, I go over the differences between bad decisions and bad choices, as well as the importance of knowing the consequences of not meeting the standards that we all must maintain.

I talk to them about how a bad decision can be used as a learning tool for better decisions in the future. A bad choice, a choice to break the law on the other hand, can result in irreversible consequences. My job is to ensure they know what the standards are and what the consequences are for not maintaining them. After that, it is up to them on whether or not they decide to maintain those standards, knowing progressive discipline will be used if necessary to get them back to meeting the standards. Both of these Airmen heard my message, both of these Airmen made the choice to use drugs. As we all know, using drugs in the military results in an irreversible consequence.

One of my Airmen came into the Air Force from what many would categorize as a dysfunctional family. This Airman spoke of relationship problems with parents and being raised in an environment with some level of drug use by family members. The second Airman came in from a more stable environment. Both Airmen had the same spark in their eyes and positive attitude about their future career in the Air Force, and what it had to offer them. One was even on the fast track, promoted below-the-zone and recognized as one of the 90th MDG's rising stars. Now, both Airmen face quite a different future.

I swell with pride when I think of all the outstanding accomplishment our medics, truly the best medics in the Air Force, have achieved for the Mighty Ninety over the past 17 months I've been here. Yet, I'm saddened by the thoughts of what these two Airmen could have achieved, both for themselves as well as the Air Force, had they made the right choice. Not to go down the road of drugs but rather, to take the high road that the Air Force Core Values keep us on.

As I continue to reflect on what I could have done differently, I hope in sharing this story there might be someone I can catch the attention of. Someone who will now take an extra minute to think about what would happen to their career, their family and their future, should they go down the same path of using drugs. If I get one Airmen to stop and think, and in the end make the right choice, my message has served its purpose.