Not all relationships are proper or professional

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Adam Wietgrefe
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Legal Office

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. The unwritten rules of this holiday tell us that you get your significant other flowers, chocolates and a card.

You could even get jewelry if you want to make a big impression.

Valentine’s Day is a good time for celebrating relationships through romantic gestures. It is also a good time to reflect on the kinds of relationships and conduct that are improper for military members, their families and civilian employees.

Air Force Instruction 36-2909, “Professional and Unprofessional Relationships,” considers relationships to be unprofessional “when they detract from authority of superiors or result in, or reasonably create the appearance of, favoritism, misuse of office or position, or the abandonment of organizational goals for personal interests.”
Unprofessional relationships can form between officers, enlisted members, officers and enlisted members, or between military members and civilian employees or contractors.

Unprofessional relationships can include shared living accommodations or transportation, close friendships, social interactions, dating or sexual relationships.

Inappropriate conduct also includes activities conducted through texting, email and social media.

Air Education and Training Command Instruction 36-2909, “Recruiting, Education, and Training Standards of Conduct,” has even more detailed restrictions on improper behaviors. At Vance, this applies to Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training instructors, students and support staff as well as their immediate family members.

Faculty, staff and their family members are prohibited from personal and social contact and relationships with students. This includes personal and social-media contact such as texting and posting to Facebook, Twitter and other online social networks.

This also includes personal and social relationships such as going to unofficial social gatherings or bars.

So when can you socialize? Organizational functions such as assignment night, unit picnics, graduations and other such events are encouraged for camaraderie and moral. The key difference is these activities are part of unit events and intended to increase unit cohesion and morale, and are not just personal in nature.

For more information or clarification, ask your supervisor, your commander or contact the Legal Office, 580-213-7404.