Don't Break the Trust

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux
  • 82nd Training Wing commander
By now, hopefully you've all heard about my three overarching priorities for the 82nd Training Wing and Team Sheppard: 1. Keeping us technically the best at our training mission; 2. Setting fantastic first impressions for our trainees, newcomers and their families; and 3. the three S's - maintaining a safe, secure, supportive environment for our people.

Part of the final priority - a safe, secure, supportive environment for our people - is directly related to the way we treat each other. The idea is if people are consistently treated with dignity and respect, they'll feel like they're part of the team and be motivated to produce good things for our Air Force.

Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. Occasionally I get reports of negative incidents related to the human relations climate between two people, among several within a shop or across a unit. This kind of climate hurts our mission and can degrade the feeling of safety, security and support that we strive for.

Given that, let me reiterate my policy in this area. We must treat each other with dignity and respect. There is no place here at Sheppard for any kind of comment or action that may be perceived as discriminatory, offensive or unprofessional.

Our base is filled with young Airmen and lieutenants who are in vulnerable positions with respect to rank and experience as they relate to their superiors in the training environment or to other permanent party personnel. They inherently trust us. It is important that trust never be violated or taken advantage of.

The consequences of breaking that trust can be severe.

I recently took final disciplinary action against a training squadron commander here at Sheppard who had taken advantage of a young female Airman in training under his command by pursuing an inappropriate relationship with her. He had broken that sacred trust.

As a result of his actions, he was relieved from command, received an Article 15, a reprimand, forfeiture of pay and separation from the United States Air Force after 14 1/2 years of service (forfeiting retirement benefits for the rest of his life.) These were severe consequences, but so was his offense.

His actions may have inalterably impacted the sense of trust this young Airman feels towards her superiors.

In the end, we cannot continue to be the world's preeminent air and space force without 100 percent of the talents and abilities of our people working together in a cooperative and productive environment. That's the only way we'll get excellence in all we do.

So please help me ensure we get the most out of our team by always treating each other with dignity, respect and professionalism. If you even see a hint of discriminatory, unprofessional, or inappropriate behavior, report it. We've got to keep the trust among us to get the job done for our nation.

Thanks Team Sheppard!