What ever happened to personal accountability?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Sheila Robinson
  • 9th Medical Support Squadron
We are living in a society where it is so easy to blame someone else for everything that happens to us, especially the bad. In an effort to become a gentler, kinder Air Force, I believe we have lost the essence of personal accountability. 

Recently 9th Medical Group officials have seen an increase in the number of Airmen arrested for driving while under the influence and for testing positive for drugs. It is difficult for the them to understand why Airmen are still having problems with alcohol-related incidents and drug use when it has been emphasized that there is a no-tolerance policy, and education is stressed frequently. 

Marketing of the no-tolerance policy and these campaigns happens at every given opportunity such as at commander's calls, on flyers plastered around the base and on cards and trinkets issued to Airmen at several different venues. 

So why do we still have Airmen who chose to drink and drive and do drugs despite a culture that preaches that these activities are not compatible with being an Airman in the Air Force? 

When does the individual become responsible for, and we hold him or her accountable for those choices? 

It is easier for individuals to create an excuse or blame someone else for their bad choice or mistake rather than take personal responsibility. It takes a greater person to accept responsibility for his or her actions and be able to sincerely say it was "my fault" or "my bad" and move on and learn from the mistake or bad choice. 

As leaders, we have become complacent in demanding more of our Airmen, more of ourselves. Senior leaders are afraid to correct individuals who are not meeting standards just to avoid conflict. 

As leaders, how can we expect an individual to be responsible when we are failing to hold him or her accountable? 

My organization's leaders decided to conduct a commander's call in an effort to generate discussion and provide possible solutions to combat our recent series of alcohol-related incidents and drug use. Although many felt to conduct this commander's call after hours was a form of punishment, the goal was to have the entire group come up with new ideas and recommendations on how to resolve these issues. 

During this commander's call, small groups were formed and the issues were to be addressed by rank. 

After great interaction, my take-away from the meeting was that the Airmen wanted more discipline, to be held accountable, and to work in an environment that encourages and fosters excellence. Alcohol over-indulgence and drug use are choices. 

As we draw down our forces, we cannot continue to spend our time and resources on individuals who make bad choices and continue to engage in activities that are not compatible with the Air Force.