Chief's Corner: DUI...What would your mother say?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. David Nordel
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Command Chief Master Sergeant
TEAM Fairchild...
I recently had to go through the painful process of looking at some of our Airmen who made bad choices with alcohol and had to come to the wing headquarters to see the commander and myself to explain why they chose to : 

1) Put the community and our base families in jeopardy by operating a vehicle while intoxicated 

2) Put themselves in harm's way, costing our team vital resources and making us weaker 

3) Put their hard earned careers on the line, potentially lining up for early departure from the Air Force and a less than stellar resume to lean on 

4) And, most significantly, let down the loved ones who have so much hope, pride and expectations for them. People such as brothers, sisters, fathers and, YES, your Mom 

You see, one of our core responsibilities to each and every one of you is to make sure you are all trained, equipped and ready for whatever our nation needs. Along with that is to keep you safe and make sure each of you has every opportunity to succeed in all you do. So I will keep you safe and I will maintain those conditions. 

Sometimes when faced with a situation you need to recall successful ideas and methods used in the past to help stop the issue from becoming systemic. I have found that the best adjunct to military discipline with issues such as DUI, Failure to Go or other irresponsible acts is to employ your most significant supervisor - the person that raised you, cheers for you and will always be there through thick and thin - that is your mother, father or grandparents - whoever had the most influence in your life. 

Team, the going rate here at Fairchild for these infractions is a conversation with these loved ones after speaking with the boss and me. 

Before I go any further let me bring up some questions that where raised and answer a few them... 

Is it legal? Yes 

What if the individual has odd family issues or doesn't have a relationship with their mother or father? The first sergeant makes sure of this before he/she dials the number of whomever is the right person. 

Is this degrading for the individual? I look at this in this way: Would you feel it was degrading if they killed your loved one? We should feel degraded that they drove in our community drunk. 

I asked each of these 92nd Air Refueling Wing Airmen to type me out a brief e-mail about the conversations with, in this case, their mothers... 

One of them has let me share some parts (some very personal parts are omitted) of his interaction with his mother. As you read this I want you to realize that this individual did not hurt anyone physically. This individual made it home safely after arrest and his unit only has administrative actions to take versus dealing with a greater tragedy.

His words: 

"I am writing this email concerning my mother's response to my DUI. I talked with my mom the afternoon of the day I was released from Security Forces. I remember being scared and completely embarrassed before even dialing the number. She is my world.
One of the reasons I joined the Air Force was to make my parents proud for what I was about to accomplish. Throwing it all away in one night makes me sick to my stomach for hurting my mother so badly. 

When she answered, she was so excited to hear from me, like always, but when I responded back to her she knew right away something was wrong. I told her what had happened that morning and she was in shock and awe. She was so confused saying, "Why would you do something like that, did anyone get hurt, how could you be so stupid?" 

I did not stop and think of what I was doing or the risk and punishment associated with it. She said that I had the world in my grasp... 

She told me that she is very, very hurt and has to explain, not just to my step father, but to my three little sisters and my little brother. My 13-year-old sister I think is the most proud of what I am doing for my career. She says that I have inspired her to go to the Air Force Academy when she gets out of high school. My mom asked me "How do you think your sister is going to feel, and how do you think she will respond to this when I have to sit down and explain to her what you did and how you put your career in jeopardy?" I was speechless, I could not say anything. 

Chief, I want you to know how sorry I am for the irresponsible mistake I have made. I put too many lives at risk that night and I will tell you that NEVER will happen again. Honestly, I will not drink again. I know that is a very bold statement, but as I reflect back on my life all the trouble and mistakes I have made in my life were because of alcohol.
The hardest part about today is not meeting with the commanders, but to see all the disappointment on everyone's face, the faces that have now lost trust in me. From the bottom of my heart I am sorry." 

Team Fairchild... 

DUI on this installation or in our Air Force is unacceptable. The going rate around here is what you see above and once these Airmen have finished with the legal system I have asked them to come to your duty sections, Commanders Calls, etc., and speak about how you can avoid their near miss with tragedy... 

As I told these young Airmen, be responsible, be safe...but most of all, BE AIRMEN!!!
Thanks for all you do. Each and every one of you is the most important person in TEAM Fairchild and our Air Force. 

Chief out!