Integrity is forever

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- It takes courage to do the right thing, no matter the consequences.

It takes years to build a reputation as a person of integrity, but it only takes a second to lose that hard-earned reputation.

Do you jeopardize your integrity to fulfill momentary desires?

Ultimately, some such choices may have negative and far-reaching consequences; amongst other things, you could lose the support and faith of your fellow Airmen. The trust we earn and the character we build are some of our most valuable qualities.

If you choose to be dishonest, sooner or later, there will be a day of reckoning. I've seen it time and again - it is extremely difficult to hide things in this day and age. Somehow and in some way, your poor choices will eventually be revealed. To strengthen your integrity, surround yourself with people of integrity. In everything you do, let your actions mirror your words.

The Air Force values integrity so much that it included it as its first core value. Our leaders have defined it as "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; the basis for the trust imperative in today's military. Your integrity is probably the result of victories over life challenges and lessons you've learned along the way.

Are you using what you've learned to be a force to strengthen a culture of integrity in our Air Force?

Here are some lessons I've learned in my 22 years of service that I try to share with others -- perhaps they'll be helpful to you:

1. I've learned that half-truths are unacceptable.

2. I've come to believe that integrity is both what you do when no one is looking and what you do when you know EVERYONE is looking!

3. I've found it necessary to remind myself daily of the importance of integrity.

I recently added a plaque to my office wall that reads: "Do what is right, let the consequences follow." It serves as a daily reminder that successes may come and go, but integrity is forever.