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.

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Thanks for Your Service,

Chuck Holmes

SKYPE: mrchuckholmes
(352) 503-4816 home office
Email: chuck@part-time-commander.com

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

  1. Justin Long

    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!

    Reply
    1. Charles Holmes Post author

      Thanks, Justin. Many leaders are so worried about themselves that they forget to look out for their soldiers’ best interest. It really saddens me.

      Reply
      1. Amy Skalicky

        The Army Core Values are all over this issue: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. I will only address three of them as they pertain to the topic. First, soldiers are not to just learn what honor is, they are to live it and breathe it, making it a habit in every word and every action. The familiar website http://www.army.mil defines all of the core values well, and addresses honor by saying “Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do. Next, I will point to selfless service, meaning you do not put yourself first, and your motivation is not based on personal gain. “Put the welfare of the nation, the Army and your subordinates before your own” is clearly stated. I will end with integrity, which demands your doing what is right legally and morally. This does not mean when it is comfortable, but all of the time. I’ll draw from army.mil one more time: “It requires that you do and say nothing that deceives others.” Doing nothing is doing something, and it is deceptive. Damaging trust has far-reaching consequences. Personally, I prefer to make choices allow me to sleep well at night, even if they are at times difficult.

        Reply
        1. Charles Holmes Post author

          The Army values are a great guide for Soldiers to follow. At the end of the day, integrity is probably the most important. You have to be a person of your word and do the right thing at all times. It’s much easier said than done.

          Chuck

          Reply

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