Character Corner: 'Big H' Honor

Character Corner is an ongoing series of commentaries furnished weekly by the U.S. Air Force Academy's Center for Character Development during the academic year. (U.S. Air Force illustration)

Character Corner is an ongoing series of commentaries furnished weekly by the U.S. Air Force Academy's Center for Character Development during the academic year. (U.S. Air Force illustration)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The military relies on the unquestionable honor and character of its members to function. It is this necessity that has resulted in such concepts as the Air Force Core Values and the U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Honor Code. However, while these concepts are an excellent starting point, they do not encompass the full spectrum of honorable living. 

A senior officer mentor and I recently discussed how it is possible to follow the strict guidance of the Core Values and Honor Code, while still engaging in dishonorable activities. This issue was the catalyst behind the development of the "Big H" Honor concept. The "Big H" concept involves an analysis of actions beyond the established guidance to determine if one's actions are in line with truly honorable living and doing the right thing. When analyzing actions, people may take the approach of resorting to legalese to find loopholes in the system to ensure they can avoid prosecution. The use of such tactics often relies on a legal "splitting of hairs". 

Two situations that occur where cadets can face this situation include "over the fence" violations and possessing vehicles when not authorized. First, going "over the fence" to leave base when unauthorized or restricted is technically not a violation of the Honor Code. One must ask, though--is such conduct as sneaking off base honorable living? Of course not. Second, the possession of a car as a freshman or sophomore is not necessarily a violation of the Honor Code. However, the deceit involved in this action is not in line with living honorably. 

The high deployment tempo of the armed forces as a result of the current conflicts also raises a major issue. 

Another military member recently told me of a disturbing trend involving infidelity in relationships. The member relayed the concept that, "What happens on TDY, stays on TDY." This line of thought is extremely destructive not only to the personal lives of the involved members, but, in addition, the fallout can severely deteriorate the effectiveness of the unit, therefore affecting its ability to accomplish the mission. Once again, such actions not only tear down mutual trust, but are against the concept of living honorably. 

When considering what kind of conduct we are going to engage in, we must look beyond lying, cheating, or stealing and consider "Big H" Honor. We must ask ourselves the big question of, "Am I living with Honor and doing the right thing?" 

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