Use Air Force core values to help focus on election issues

  • Published
  • By Lt Col Miles Crowell
  • 71st Operations Group
"May you live in interesting times." I've been told this is an ancient Chinese curse.
With all the issues surrounding the global war on terrorism combined with an election year, I think we have certainly been "blessed" with this curse. The proximity of our country's independence has made me ponder what the founding fathers did for us, and how the Air Force core values can serve us in these troubled times.
"We the people" is a founding premise of our obligation as citizens. It is our government and we need to be involved in its process. In an official capacity, military members must remain neutral in the campaign political process; however that does not mean we should be uninvolved as citizens. It is incumbent upon us to exercise our right and responsibility to vote.
Most of us must cast absentee ballots, and that can be challenging. Do not wait, do it now: see your unit voting representative and get registered to vote. The next thing to do is get up to speed on the issues and candidates. With all the news sources, radio, cable or satellite television and the Internet, there is no excuse not to have reasonable knowledge of what the issues are and what the candidates represent. Again, unit voting reps can help you with vectors to these information sources.
Once you have amassed the information on the issues and candidates you need to decide how you are going to vote. To quote my high school civics teacher, "I expect you to vote like I do ... I vote how I darn well please." Making a decision is not always easy, but this is where our core values can serve you well as you make that choice.
Integrity first -- Does the candidate you are considering represent what you want from a leader with respect to courage, honesty, responsibility, accountability, justice, openness, self respect and humility? Do the candidates possess the moral courage to do what is right even if the personal cost is high? Are the candidates honest, or lie for expediency? Will the candidates take responsibly and be accountable for their actions? Will the candidates apply justice in their actions or favor interests? Will the candidate be open or try to close the governmental process to the average citizen? Will the candidates have the self respect to avoid discrediting the office they are seeking? Finally will the candidates have the humility to remember it is not about them but about the service to their constituents?
Excellence in all we do -- Will the candidates, or approval of the issues, contribute to continuous improvement in government services, efficiencies and innovations that will propel our country into a long-term, upward spiral of accomplishment? Will we get what we deserve in exchange for our hard earned tax dollars?
Service before self --Closely tied to integrity. Will the candidates allow personal desires to interfere with their professional duties? Will they follow the rule of law or make exceptions for themselves and friends? Will they exercise respect and tolerance for others even if views differ? Will they execute discipline and self control and not be seduced by power? Will they keep faith in the system? Will the issues before the voters be of service to the constituents, or just furthering ineffective programs?
Voting is your basic obligation as a citizen, but there is more to consider. We are service men and women, with an emphasis on service -- we are very good at it. You need to ask yourself how you can be of more service to your community and nation, or is your military service enough for now. Just look around and you can see examples of Team Vance military members serving beyond the Air Force. We have members here that serve on the local school board, or are involved in local programs like Habitat for Humanity, Leonardo's and others. What about after your military career? The senate and congress has less than half the military experience they had a decade ago. As a veteran you bring a lot to the table, consider sharing you abilities. Dedication to the concept of service would be welcomed by our fellow citizens, whether locally on a city council, state-wide as a representative or nationally as a congressman or senator.
So as we reflect upon our nation's independence, remember it is founded on service. How can you continue to use your service experience to the benefit of the nation?