Strong Airmen, strong families

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- I hope by now you've read the letter to all Airmen by Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, Nov. 15, 2012, regarding sexual assault in our Air Force. I also hope you've spent some time thinking about what he asked each of us Airmen to do; he said, "the only way to stop sexual assault is for Airmen to take action... you must be part of the solution!" I agree with Welsh and I commit to do my part to help solve this problem... will you?

First, let's acknowledge we have a problem. This past November, Welsh summoned to Washington D.C. every Air Force wing commander from across the world and directed them to talk to their Airmen about this unacceptable crime and that he expects Airmen to intervene when they witness, or suspect, this type of behavior. Welsh related that approximately 700 sexual assaults will be reported in our Air Force this year. That shocks me beyond belief. It angers me and I hope it angers you too! Have you seen the movie, "The Invisible War?" The movie chronicles several military women who were, and are, victims of sexual assault in our military. If you haven't seen it, I recommend you check it out. The movie will make you think, and it'll make you mad! You'll also come to the realization that we have a problem.

What if someone sexually assaulted your daughter or son, your sister or brother... how would you react? Would you believe them? Of course you would! You'd be mad, and you'd want justice. We're in the profession of arms; we're a family! Our Airmen's creed reminds us that we are part of, "a proud heritage, a tradition of honor, and a legacy of valor...guardians of freedom and justice," who will, "never leave an Airman behind." Those statements must have meaning in each one of us if we're going to eliminate these predators from our Air Force. We must commit to do our part. Don't stand idly by and let things happen, become part of the solution!

I believe we have a sexual assault problem in our Air Force and I believe we must become active in cleansing our Air Force of the predators who commit these crimes. So, what are we going to do about it? Our Air Force recruiters do a wonderful job of finding incredible talent from across the globe; however, sometimes predators temporarily hide and conceal their true identities. They are true predators that look for opportunities to prey on their next victim when they think no one is looking, or when their victim appears vulnerable. Often, alcohol is used by predators as a weapon to intoxicate potential victims. As Airmen, let's commit to find these predators, hold them accountable, and purge them from our Air Force so we can remain the most professional and disciplined Air, Space, and Cyber Force the world knows.

When each of us entered the Air Force we learned about honor codes and core values like, "Integrity, service and excellence"... we heard statements like, "We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does." I received my commission through officer training school and to this day I think about the words "Always with Honor." These words must be the boundary of our individual moral compasses. One of our 30th Space Wing goals calls for, "Strong Airmen, Strong Families"... an associated goal is, "Zero Sexual Assaults." To this day, it's still very hard for me to believe we have to have this as one of our top three goals... as a fellow Airman, I personally ask each of you to consider this goal a top priority. I'd ask you to think about your commitment to your Air Force, to your wingmen, and to your family. I commit to do my part to help solve this problem, will you?