The Cornerstore of our Military

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Kevin Keehn
  • Commander, New Jersey Air National Guard
As members of the New Jersey Air National Guard we are subject to many different and increased obligations than our non-military civilian counterparts. We are different in the way we dress, in our conduct, our appearance, our job performance, and the sacrifices we may have to make because of our military affiliation.

We are all familiar with the many rules and regulations necessary to ensure we can meet and perform our job. The reasons for these more stringent rules and greater expectations are very simple: We are sworn to defend this country, entrusted to maintain millions of dollars' worth of equipment and/or facilities and in certain instances, people's lives may be on the line. Our reliability must be twofold: We must do what we are asked to do by our commanders and not do that which is not authorized.

Two cornerstones of our military affiliation and are essential to the success of any organization are integrity and personal responsibility. Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It is basically doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Personal responsibility is being accountable for your actions and the consequences of those actions. It should be evident to you and others that there is a willingness to "own up" to ones actions. This behavior is exhibited in day-to-day interactions on the job and at home.

Integrity and personal responsibility go hand in hand and must enter into all of our thoughts, words, and deeds. Our integrity must be absolute. There is no aspect of our Air National Guard duties which allow us the opportunity to lie, cheat, or steal. In fact, to do any of those would go against exactly what the Air Guard stands for. If we are to be successful, we must be completely open and honest in our operations, staff work, and relationships with others.

Integrity and personal responsibility are essential in our staff work. Honest and balanced staff work is essential for proper decision making. Do not be afraid to tell your supervisor the bad news. It is much easier to fix a problem at the very beginning than to keep saying everything is alright. Eventually the problem will become overwhelming and then it may take a tremendous amount of effort to fix the problem. Supervisors, be honest in your yearly performance appraisals. By inflating an individual's rating you not only hurt the individual, but everyone in the unit. Let an individual know where they need help and then offer them the help that they need. This in turn will not only help that individual, but it will help the entire unit. Also take a look at yourself, do you give an honest day's work for a day's pay? This too, is ultimately a test of integrity. No matter how great or small your particular job is, it is your responsibility to perform that job to the best of your ability.

Our people are our most important resource. We must treat each other with the respect and dignity that we all deserve. We must also remember to give our very best when performing our job. To do anything less would be cheating ourselves and the other members of the unit. No one in this unit is insignificant. From the Commander of the New Jersey Air National Guard to the newest Airman, each has a job to do that is important to the unit's overall success. We all depend upon each other and must take care of each other.

Our affiliation with the New Jersey Air National Guard imposes upon each of us individual burdens of responsibility and dependability. We are bound by regulations and public trust to perform our duties and responsibilities at a moment's notice and without fail. To maintain the trust of those that rely upon us, our integrity and personal responsibility must be unwavering.