What ever happened to personal accountability?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Sheila Robinson
  • 9th Medical Support Squadron Commander
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 the 9th Medical Group has seen an increase in the number of Airmen arrested for driving while under the influence and testing positive for drugs. It is difficult for the leadership to understand why Airmen are still having problems with alcohol related incidents and drug usage when it has been emphasized that there is a no tolerance policy, and education is stressed frequently through the "0-0-1-3", "Don't Drink and Drive", and the "Just Say No" Campaigns.

Marketing of the no tolerance policy and these campaigns are expressed at every given opportunity such as Commander's Call, 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 Airmen in the Air Force?

When does the individual become responsible for, and we hold them accountable for their choices?

We live in a society where individuals demand to be recognized for doing nothing more than the job in which they are paid to do, but refuse to accept accountability for the bad choices or mistakes that they make.

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

My organization's leadership decided to conduct a mandatory commander's call in an effort to generate discussion and provide possible solutions to combat our recent series of ARIs and drug usage. 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.

The Airmen were to discuss ways leadership could help them desire to follow the no tolerance policy. They were to discuss how to develop a contingency plan when they participate in high-risk activities.

NCO's and first-line supervisors were to discuss how to talk to the Airmen about being responsible and reinforcing the Airmen's plan.

Senior NCOs and officers were to discuss leading by example and holding individuals accountable.

After great interaction, my take away from the call was that the Airmen wanted more discipline, to be held accountable, and to work in an environment that encourage and fosters excellence. ARIs and drug usage is a choice.

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.

Airmen want to be held accountable for their choices.

As leaders, we should give them exactly what they expect of us, to hold them accountable for their personal choices.