Spring fever doesn’t mean losing your self-discipline

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Steven D. Vautrain
  • Commander, 439th Airlift Wing
Spring fever must be in the air. The snow is melting, the birds are returning, the squirrels are out, and self-discipline seems to be slipping. The Patriot Wing is the best wing in the Air Force, but it seems that every spring we must be reminded that we are responsible for our own actions. Speeding, illegal parking, and moving violations all seem to be on the rise; customs and courtesies, proper uniform wear, and common sense all seem to be in decline. I know the weather is getting warmer and we feel freer, but we must still obey the rules. I do not like to hear from retirees that our Airmen are not wearing the uniform properly off-base, and I definitely do not want to hear that one of our Airmen has been injured or killed because someone lacked self-discipline.

As members of the greatest military in the world, we are expected to maintain a high level of discipline at all times. That is a reason why the military is consistently rated as one of the most highly respected groups in America. The proper wear of the uniform and following proper customs and courtesies are outward displays of that discipline. If you cannot wear your uniform properly or follow proper customs and courtesies, it is doubtful that you can do your primary duty properly.

The same applies when driving your vehicle. If you cannot obey the speed limit, put your cell phone down, or stop at a stop sign, it is an indication that you may not be following other rules. The same internal lack of discipline that lets these things slide could also cause you to skip a step in a checklist, take a short-cut around a safety check, or not pay attention during a critical phase of a procedure.

It is time to stop, do a self-evaluation, and make sure that we are abiding by the rules. Minor slips in self-discipline such as improper uniform wear or illegal parking are disturbing, but they are an indication that our self-discipline is slipping and worse things could happen if we do not correct course and steer ourselves back towards following the rules -- all of the rules.

The public would not trust us with billions of dollars' worth of equipment, the lives of their sons and daughters, and the protection of the nation if they did not believe we have the discipline to follow simple rules. We must strive to follow the rules.

If you think you have a better way of doing something, submit a suggestion through proper channels to have the rule changed, but in the meantime it is your responsibility to comply. Not following the rules might seem to be a good idea at the time, but in the end it could result in lost time, injury, or death.