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Character… it's a military necessity

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Character. When you hear that word what's the first thing that comes to your mind? Maybe it's a cartoon character or that person in your section that makes everyone laugh no matter what the situation is. In the right context those definitions could be appropriate, but as we transition into April, and with its Year of Leadership theme being "Character", we need to focus on a more appropriate definition.

Depending on where you choose to look, there are as many as 20 different definitions of the word "character." For this article I will concentrate on a fitting definition I found in my trusty Webster's dictionary: "the combination of emotional, intellectual, and moral qualities distinguishing one person or group from another." Even though we are a diverse group of individuals, the mere fact of being in the military sets us apart from the rest of society.

In this light, there is one character trait that any Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman or Coast Guardsman is expected to have: trustworthiness. We are in an honorable profession, the profession of arms, which carries with it the huge responsibility of defending our country. We raised our hands and took an oath to fulfill that responsibility and the citizens of our great country put their trust in us to live up to that oath. Yes, some of our brothers and sisters in arms are on the front lines right now fulfilling their responsibility; some have even paid the ultimate sacrifice. But I offer to you that those of us not currently in harm's way or on our respective "front line" right now can do something every day that upholds the trust our country has placed in us.

Specifically, each one of us has to be prepared to step up when our name is called. A large part of this preparation lies in our attention to detail during training exercises, our attitude while staying physically fit and our consistency in maintaining compliance with the standards that govern the who, what, where, when and why we do what we do in our area of responsibility. All of these are integral in our ability to accomplish the mission which, in turn, is vital in maintaining the trust of our great nation.

Trustworthiness has always been associated with the character of the military professional, and as we focus on "character" in the month of April, take pride in being part of this distinguished group.