The Hard Right or the Easy Wrong in the Military

Today, I want to share a lesson that I call “the hard right or easy wrong.”  In my opinion, there are some things that you must stand up for regardless of the consequences. These “things” are your values, your beliefs, and things that you know are morally right.

In some cases, when you “stand up for these things,” bad things might happen to you. For example, think back to the founding fathers of this country. When they signed the “Declaration of Independence” they knew they were basically signing their own death wish.  But they signed it anyway, because they understood the importance of FREEDOM.

As an Army Leader (NCO or Officer), one of your most important jobs is to be an advocate for your Soldiers. That means that you are their appointed representative. You are the person who looks out for them and makes sure that they are not being neglected, abused or mistreated.

At some point in your career, you will need to stick your neck out on the line for your troops.  For example, maybe one of your soldiers is be punished by higher command for something you know he did not do.  Or, maybe your boss gave an unlawful or unethical order that puts everyone’s life on the line for no good reason at all.   At times like this, you have an obligation to step out of your comfort zone and talk with your boss, their boss, or whoever else is necessary to resolve the problem.  This is a very important part of your job.

In some cases, this could even have negative consequences in your Army career. You could end up “burning a bridge,” “pissing someone off” or even get “black-balled.” You could even get a bad evaluation report or possibly get relieved for doing so.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that many Army Leaders aren’t willing to do this. Even if they KNOW something is wrong, they don’t want to face the adversity and possibly get themselves in trouble in the process. Since it doesn’t affect them personally, they’d rather fly under the radar than do the right thing and speak up. And I think that’s sad. Remember, YOUR CAREER is NEVER more important than your integrity.

If you know something is wrong, YOU HAVE AN OBLIGATION to do your best and try to fix it. If you know one of your troops is being mistreated, ripped off, or punished for something they didn’t do, you better be willing to help them.

Personally, I’d rather face the consequences of getting punished for trying to do the right thing than sliding under the radar by doing nothing. And even if that meant I didn’t hit my career goal, get a new promotion, or something else I really wanted; I could live with that. But I could never live with myself knowing that I did nothing when I should have done something.

The moral of the story is that you should always choose the hard right over the easy wrong.  Don’t be scared of the consequences if you do what you are doing is the right thing to do.  I hope this post gets you thinking.

If you have any questions about this subject, just contact us and we will do our best to give you a solid answer.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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3 thoughts on “The Hard Right or the Easy Wrong in the Military”

  1. Chuck, this is a wonderful post and great topic that comes up DAILY in Army and civilian life. I think often we take the easy wrong…well, because it is easy. I liked the example you used of the Founding Fathers and their struggle. Oftentimes the perspective of what is right and wrong depends on who is looking at the situation and that makes decisions even harder as you may receive pressure from someone who out ranks you to do what they want to do even though your convictions tell you otherwise. Add to that, oftentimes the hard things isn’t always right…it just SEEMS right because it is different thinking. I think the most important point you make in this post is to never sacrifice your integrity and do what you think is right. I feel this way all the time as a line unit leader and arguments I have with my BTN. Sometimes they forget that their “brilliant” ideas do not work at the unit level (mostly because they’ve never been at the unit level) and you must tell them that, even if they outrank you…why? Because like you said, you are an advocate for your Soldiers…never forget that. Again, great post!

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