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Just put it down; It’s time to earn the title bestowed upon us

  • Published
  • By Col. Robert Rocco
  • 6th Medical Group commander
For the past 26 years--my time, so far, in the Air Force--I have heard leaders describe our generation in flattering terms on numerous occasions. We have been called the "best and the brightest," "the new 'greatest' generation," and countless other names commenting on how wonderful we are.

Until recently, I agreed. Lately though, I'm not so sure.

Why the change of heart? I am not sure we are living up to the titles bestowed upon us.
Would "the best and the brightest" drink and drive? The answer is no, but it seems like every week one of us gets popped for driving under the influence--on or off-base.

Would "the new 'greatest' generation" drive 65 mph on the local highway--while texting? Again, the answer should be obvious. I watch cars and drivers; by my count, one out of three of us is on the phone or texting--and that's ON base--while operating a 3-ton machine.

How could anyone described as great drive while using those stupid phones knowing that driving and texting or talking on a cell phone could kill someone or themselves? Or that it is illegal? Is this action ignorance or apathy? I only hope the answer isn't, "Sir, I don't know and I don't care."

It's not just phones. I read a few years back something about one of our best and brightest teammates who, while driving and texting, was also drunk. In fact, he was texting, "Dude, I'm so wasted!" This is clearly someone whom evolution left behind--and he was also someone with so little regard for the safety of others that he was beyond my sympathy (as are many others who elect to risk the lives of my family and yours for their own selfish reasons).

I have to admit, like many of you, I have texted or used the phone when I shouldn't have. I don't anymore. When I get in my car now, my phone is always turned off or tossed into the back seat. It was hard at first, but after a while, I found it refreshing to lose the leash--even for just a few moments.

Why have I become such a zealot about "putting it down," both the bottle and the phone? For one reason: the same people out there who are quick to call us heroes will just as quickly call us, all of us as a group, "idiots" because one of the group was too foolish to do the right thing.

One of us will end up killing someone because we didn't think it could happen to us or rationalize the action with, "I knew it was wrong, but I thought I was okay."

Airmen, we are on notice. We all know what is right and what is wrong. It is time for all of us to get this straight. "Just put it down" and do the right thing.