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NEWS | Oct. 10, 2014

Don't believe everything you read

By Col. Jeffrey DeVore Joint Base Charleston commander

Don't believe everything you read.

I can't tell you how many times I have heard that throughout my career. And while it is certainly true, I think we need to be careful of overusing the term.

I was visiting the Galley the other day and sat down with a few Sailors while eating lunch. They were discussing some of the recent relief actions involving commanders and senior enlisted personnel in the Navy. When I asked about where they were getting their information, they cited a few Navy internet sites and some non-Department of Defense blogs. I wasn't familiar with all of their sources, but the topics they brought up were excellent and really challenged me as a commander and leader.

One Sailor said, "You probably don't like us reading those blogs. Don't believe everything you read, right sir?"

I think my answer surprised them. While I do think you need to be critical of what you read, I am glad they are reading things which spark such candid dialogue. I was actually very impressed on the depth of the topics they talked about. I found myself taking notes to check up and review some things. Maybe I am crazy, but I loved the fact these Sailors were out looking for information. I loved the fact they professionally challenged me on what they read. And I loved the fact that it forced me to go back and rethink my position.

As a service member and a commander, this is what you want and expect from your people. These Sailors are not in my chain of command, but I am glad there were not happy with accepting the status quo.  They are thinking of their future, learning about a variety of issues, and willing to talk about those issues with their leadership. Trust between commanders and their people is paramount. There has to be an avenue where communication can flow in a professional manner. Thank you to those Sailors for having trust in me.

So, it's true, don't believe everything you read, but thank you for seeking knowledge and taking a different perspective on issues and having a solid discussion. I am a better commander for it, and I hope you are a better Sailor, Airman, Soldier, Marine, Coast Guardsman and civilian as a result as well.