• Published
  • By Lt. Col. Suzie Dietz
  • 97th Medical Operations Squadron
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word "accountability"? According to Miriam-Webster's Dictionary, being accountable is defined as, "being required to explain actions or decisions to someone."

In the Air Force, we frequently use the word accountability to describe the responsibility that we have for our actions. This statement holds validity, but the ramifications go deeper and affect everyone in our service from top to bottom. It's not just about one person being accountable for when a process doesn't work or when a checklist isn't followed, it's about everyone involved in that process taking ownership and being responsible for whatever piece of the picture they own.

As an Air Education and Training Command base, training is at the forefront of everyone's mind when we discuss the mission; it's essentially why we're here. The students are accountable to present themselves with an open mind and willingness to learn. The instructors are accountable for fostering a productive and informative learning environment that will give the students the tools they need to succeed. The support agencies contribute in a multitude of ways to ensure that the mission is continuous and successful. The leadership is there to make sure all available resources are dedicated to making this whole process as streamlined, cost effective and complete as possible.

We all have the ability to affect what happens around us. Taking ownership and being responsible is the key to making it work. It's been stated many times before, this is a volunteer force. No one was coerced or forced to wear this uniform and doing so is a privilege. We are all human and will make mistakes; the idea of accountability comes when you decide what happens next: did you know that you were making a mistake? Did you willfully do something wrong or was it because you didn't know? At some point the buck will stop with you. Continually passing blame and not taking ownership of your actions isn't what the Air Force is about.

What is the right path? It's the one where we follow the Air Force Core Values. A colonel once said to me, always do the right thing, that way if there's ever a question in the future, you know you're covered.

Being accountable for your actions can sometimes be a very difficult and uncomfortable choice. You may not want to air your dirty but in the long run, being an honest broker of your actions is the right decision to make. This will take courage and maturity to complete, but in the end you will be a better person for taking that step.

Accountability can be found in not just the big decisions but also in our day-to-day interactions. Once we have been given the tools to succeed it's up to all of us to make sure that we use those tools and skills to help not only ourselves but those around us. If you see others who are taking actions or making decisions that you know are wrong, then you are as much at fault as they are. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. We have to learn to speak up when we see things that are unacceptable. It will be difficult and it may take some moral fortitude to do, but as Airmen it's also our responsibility.