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NEWS | Nov. 28, 2012

Yes, we are held to higher standards

By Chief Master Sgt. Gigi Manning 315th Airlift Wing command chief

"Because power corrupts, society's demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases." - John Adams

Last week, I had the privilege of sitting with four ladies on the Palmetto Chapter of the Women in Defense panel in recognition of Veterans Day. I, along with guests from the Navy, Coast Guard and Army, shared our stories on how we came into the military and why we've stayed.

The floor was then opened to questions from the audience. The last question of the day was, "What is your instantaneous response to what has been happening in the news these last couple of days? I know I'm being vague, but I want to hear your answers."

Everyone knew the question was referring to the news surrounding Gen. Petraeus. One response was about separation from the family, heat of battle, being human, bonding in the field, etc., and you were left wondering whether or not this individual condoned the general's actions. I wondered what message this sent to the individual's subordinates and peers..

Our words and actions directly influence those we work with and the general populace as a whole. Regardless of which uniform we wear, the public sees us as the military and therefore held to a higher standard. When each of us voluntarily raised our hands, we accepted the charges leveled against us, to include justice, morality and ethical standards. If we, especially senior leaders, don't uphold the standards, how can we expect those we lead to do the right thing? Everyone has a story, and there will always be shades of gray, but we all know that for many, perception is reality.

So ask yourself: Are you living and upholding the standards you were charged with every day? Are you taking the necessary steps to ensure those in your circle of influence are doing their part? It's not always easy and there are times when one falls short, but at those times is when accountability and integrity means the most.