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NEWS | Dec. 20, 2017

The mystery of disappearing standards

By Staff Sgt. Areca T. Bell 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

After five years, my time had finally come. In my career field, the opportunity to go back to technical training was a blessing—after all public affairs and the art of communication is constantly evolving.

As I entered the hallways of the Defense Information School on Fort Meade, Maryland, it was as though I’d entered a time capsule. In it were two types of U.S. Air Force Airmen—first term and prior service.

I could tell these Airmen apart for all the wrong reasons.

There were poorly maintained haircuts, wrinkled uniforms and out of regulation make up.

I also heard an Airman address a master sergeant with the term “dude.”

“What?!,” I thought to myself.

Even within the first hour of meeting a fellow prior service Airman, he had nothing but poor things to say about his shop and leadership. I couldn’t believe it—the words that were said and the manner in which they were said, was appalling. I was a complete stranger, who at this point, had three assignments under my belt—I could have known any of the people he was bashing.

Against the backdrop of the Airmen fresh out of basic training, the infractions of my prior service peers were glaring.

When I first attended technical training, everything had to be perfect and anything less was a shame. Maybe it was my new-found pride in being an Airman straight out of basic or the fact that our detachment’s military training leaders would correct you on the smallest misstep.

Mulling over all of this, I wondered what could have possibly happened to the prior service Airmen. What changed between then and now? Are we not proud Airmen anymore? And how can I improve this?

This got me thinking about the Air Force’s core values: Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do. In all of these values it starts with the foundation of Airmen. We should be upholding standards even if someone isn’t holding us accountable. We should be putting the needs of the Air Force before ourselves—this includes following its directives. We should also always strive to do our best, no matter the situation. Without these principles, we wouldn’t be the world’s best air and space force.

These standards are instilled in brand new Airmen from day one of basic training; however, once we get to our first base we—the prior service members—tell them to relax. Over time, just like us they forget the standards. Instead we should look up at these Airmen, who haven’t yet lost their shine. If we do this, we will maintain the standards initially given to us.