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NEWS | Nov. 27, 2006

Responsible choices, new culture

By 1st Lt. Rachel Sherburne 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Every year, we lose Airmen because of poor choices. We know that these choices are irresponsible. We are told that these choices will result in tragic consequences. We are even given alternatives to avoid these poor choices and make better choices.

And yet every year, people make the choice to drink and drive, use illegal drugs or commit suicide. Some will be convicted of driving under the influence, some will lose their job, some will kill themselves, and others will have to live the rest of their lives knowing they killed a friend or another innocent victim.

Safety is important and should always be considered, but if we want to really change, we have to create a new culture - a culture of responsible choice. In this culture, each person is not only responsible for his or her own decisions, but he or she must also be willing to take a stand and help others make the right choice.

Being a wingman means being committed to taking care of others 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even though it may mean making an unpopular decision.

Your wingman may not like it when you take away his keys and refuse to let him drive home from the party, even though he claims he's "good to go." Your wingman might be irate when you tell her commander about her drug problem. Your wingman may be angry if you seek help from life skills or a chaplain because you've noticed certain behaviors and heard things that make you think he or she may be contemplating suicide.

As a wingman, you may have to make tough decisions, but think of it this way: the worst case scenario - you may lose a friend. The best case scenario - you may save a life.
Creating a culture of responsibility means realizing every decision we make has consequences. Throughout the next several weeks, The Flyer will highlight stories from Langley Airmen who have been affected by alcohol, illegal drugs and suicide. Why? We've all heard about what decisions are poor, but we rarely hear about the consequences associated with those decisions. If we are ever going to change and work for a better future, we need to learn lessons from our past.

We need every Airman to come together if we're going to create a culture of responsibility in the Air Force. People who have ideas, suggestions or have seen successful programs at other bases that may reduce the number of DUIs, drug convictions and suicides here can send an e-mail to
We're going to look at all options, ideas and potential programs. We're going to create a new culture here, and we're going to do everything we can to protect and serve our most valuable asset - our people.