Is it worth it?

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Goose bumps rush over your body as you march down the bomb run in your blues. The crowd is full of familiar faces from family to childhood friends. The cheers are thunderous and strong, and all eyes are on you and your fellow Airmen. You are now a member of the most powerful air force in the world - the United States Air Force.

Nothing can measure the amount of honor you've brought to yourself and your family, but one bad choice can destroy all that you have worked for and achieved; especially if that choice is underage drinking.

Underage drinking has several consequences many don't think about until it's too late. The wrong choice can cost you stripes, reduction in pay, Article 15, your credibility and even your good reputation.

Underage drinking is a choice. By doing it, not only are you breaking the law, you're breaking the high standards and core values the Air Force enforces, too. The first core value, integrity first, requires self control. It may be hard for someone to do the right thing especially when no one is looking or when your friends are encouraging the wrong choice, but by declining that can of beer, glass of wine or shot of liquor, you're showing that you won't give in to peer pressure. Most importantly, it shows that you have respect for yourself and service. This brings in the second core value, service before self.

As much as you may desire that alcoholic drink and want to join others who seem to be having the time of their life, you choose to do what's right and remain a responsible, professional member of the force. You are reflecting a reliable, mission-ready Airman; you're ready to be a warrior. In turn, you're greatly reducing the risk of harm and safety mishaps to others and you are maintaining your own well-being because your senses are not being impaired.

Getting your Community College of the Air Force degree, volunteering in the community, getting involved in base organizations and events, retaining your certifications for your job, training others in your work center; these are all examples of the third core value, excellence in all we do. How can we achieve excellence when it only takes one Airman who fails to do the right thing and gives in to underage drinking?

Breaking your morals and your values to drink alcohol; is it worth it? Is it worth the risk of losing all that you've accomplished? Is it worth losing the respect of those who look up to you - both military and civilian? Is it worth dishonoring the very force you have pledged to serve and excel in?

The answer is yours. Underage drinking is a choice. Making the right choice displays your Air Force core values. Most importantly, it reflects your choice to not falter or fail, but to remain a warrior in the greatest Air Force in world.