Trust is not given it is earned

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Michael Brock
  • 317th Operations Support Squadron
We are blessed to live in a time and a community that is grateful toward those that wear a uniform. However, the trust and respect of the American people is not something we should take for granted. I would like to share a few personal examples of kindness that people have shown toward me over the last few years.

I was walking through the parking lot of a restaurant in Abilene last week in uniform after a going-away lunch, and a lady ran over and asked if she could give us a hug. I wasn't sure why but she told the three of us, "thank you for your service."

My 8-year-old son made a new friend in our neighborhood. I came home from work and this young boy looked at me and said, "thank you for your service."

A few years ago, I was heading through security at the St. Louis airport on my way to catch the rotator out of Baltimore. It was a very long line. A TSA agent walked all the way to the back of the line and pulled me out and asked me to please come to the front. I told him that I was not in a rush and he said, "this is how we thank folks for their service." The truly amazing thing was that no person in the long security line objected to me going to the front.

Gallup polls consistently find that among American institutions, the military tops the list as the one that garners the most public confidence. However, this was not always the case. Public confidence in the military has grown from a low point in the late 1970's and early 1980's to where we stand today. When my father returned from Vietnam, he was not treated with the kindness and respect that we in uniform are treated today.

The level of confidence that we currently enjoy must not be taken for granted. We should commit ourselves to earning the public's trust and confidence every day through our service and our actions. When we act in a manner that is inconsistent with our core values, we erode that trust and the confidence in our institution.

The recent case of an Air Force officer being arrested for sexual assault while managing sexual assault prevention programs, is an example of how we can lose trust with the public. Behavior like this cannot be tolerated. When an individual violates values of the organization there must be accountability. Accountability restores trust in the institution and puts us back on the path of public confidence.

When we commit ourselves to excellence every day, we honor the public and those who have served before us. We should remember that we have our veterans to thank for building this confidence over many years.

I'm sure you have your own examples of how individuals in the community have honored you in some way. Remember, trust is not an entitlement. It's something that we need to go out and earn every day.
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