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What it means to be a first-term Airman

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- To be a first-term Airman is difficult. You're still adjusting to the military way of life, and in most instances, you find yourself thinking about your family and friends at home. Because of this, you may lose focus on the mission at hand, yet you still have to perform in the best interest of the country.

Being a first-term Airman, you only have three rules to follow to be successful down the line in your career: integrity first, service before self and excellence in all you do. In basic military training your technical instructor infuses these values in you to help you succeed later on in your career. I began my military career on Dec. 29, 2008, and so far I don't think it's been a bad decision.

Integrity first is our first core value in the Air Force and means being consistently true to your morals, character and ideals and not wavering, even when circumstances - good or bad - change. To have integrity benefits the mission. For example, if you break a piece of equipment, it's your responsibility to make your supervisor aware of this so it can be fixed immediately. If the situation is known right away, it can be fixed in a timely manner. But if time goes by and you haven't told anyone, the situation can become worse and more costly. This also shows lack of character on your part and disregard for the mission. Therefore, integrity first is a value that shouldn't be taken lightly and should follow being a first-term Airman.

In addition to integrity first, service before self is also another one of the Air Force core values. What does it really mean? Service before self tells us that professional duties take precedence over personal desires. Also, we must place the needs of others above our own personal comfort, exhibit discipline and self-control in our daily affairs and have faith in the system -- our Air Force. Service before self can also take you places you don't want to be. Like when we deploy or take a new assignment to a location we don't want to be in or during a timeframe we may not have wanted or if we have to retrain out of our career field even though we're very happy in our present duty -- these are all examples of service before self. Being a first-term Airman, you have to make sure that you put your service first, no matter how hard it is. As a result it can help you in your career.

Furthermore, excellence in all we do is our last but hardest core value. How can one be excellent in everything thing that they do? Most people know the saying "no one is perfect." But excellence in all we do directs us to develop a sustained passion for the continuous improvement and innovation that will propel the Air Force into a long-term, upward spiral of accomplishment and performance. This means you should give 100 percent in everything you do for the Air Force and if possible go above and beyond what you think is 100 percent. If you give it your all, no one has any reason to doubt that the job or mission you were trying to complete was completed to the best of your ability.

In conclusion, being a first-term Airman means you should strive to be the best at what you do, complete your mission in a timely manner and to give it your all no matter what you're feeling at the time. The easy and best way to do this is to use what is already instilled in your core values: integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. They also serve as beacons vectoring us back to the path of professional conduct; the core values allow us to transform a climate of corrosion into a climate of ethical commitment. These core values help you to continue on to your second, third or even fifth term of service.