Is it worth it?

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melissa K. Mekpongsatorn
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
People are often told to learn from their mistakes, but in the Air Force, that one mistake could sometimes be their last. Do Airmen really know what mistakes could cost them their career?

An Article 15, court martial, a discharge from the Air Force or time in jail can all greatly impactful an Airman's career and life.

"The top three offenses for which Airmen received an Article 15 between May 2010 and May 2011 were willful, dereliction of duty, failure to obey a lawful order and absent without leave," according to Capt. Lauren A. Shure, 23rd Wing Legal Office chief of military justice. "Many Airmen do not realize that oversleeping just a couple hours could turn into an AWOL."

The top three offenses for which Airmen were court-martialed during the same period of time are similar to, but more serious than, the offenses Airmen received Article 15s for.

The most common offenses for which Airmen received a court-martial were failure to obey a lawful order, AWOL for more than three days, but less than 30 days and use of illegal drugs.

"We sometimes convince ourselves that people are only court-martialed for serious offenses, but it always depends on the facts of the case," said Captain Shure.

In fact, failure to obey a lawful order could be something as simple as deviating from technical data or failing to follow a no-contact order.

When asked, several Airmen throughout base said they thought drug use, constantly getting in trouble and failing their PT test would be the top three reasons.

"I think the number one reason Airmen get in trouble and are discharged from the military is illegal drug use," said Senior Airman Johnny Liu, 23rd Force Support Squadron food service specialist. "I think another reason might be constant insubordination."

Airmen on base seem to understand that using illegal drugs can be detrimental to their career, but they continue to take the risk.

"The top reason for people be discharged is probably illegal drug use," said Airman 1st Class Roger Perose, 824th Base Defense Squadron fire team member.

The top three reasons why Moody Airmen were discharged between May 1, 2010, and May 1, 2011, were drug use, minor disciplinary infractions and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline.

In the last year, 25 Airmen were discharged for drug use, 18 for minor disciplinary infractions and four for conduct prejudicial to good order.

"The most common offenses are the ones we can learn from, and the things we can learn to avoid," said Captain Shure. "Avoid situations where you are likely to make that one wrong decision. Push yourself to exceed and follow the core values every day."

All of the offenses that Airmen are getting in trouble for are all avoidable. The thought of receiving an Article 15 may be scary to some Airmen, but imagine getting a court-martial or discharged for making one mistake. Is it worth it?