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Integrity is an idea that has been discussed by individuals with a verbal acuity far beyond anything I could ever hope for. With that in mind, I will not delve deeply or poetically into what integrity is or should mean. However, I will simplify the meaning of integrity; at the core, integrity boils down to doing what is right even if nobody is watching. See a piece of trash on the ground and nobody is around...pick it up. Driving down the road with no cops in the speed limit. Arrive at a tollbooth and no attendant is working…pay the toll. An applicant is not readily available to sign a form for enlistment…track them down and ensure they sign it. I could write examples until infinity becomes paltry in comparison, yet I am sure I have made my point clearly; the greater good must be upheld regardless of who is there to ensure it is happening. It seems obvious that integrity should be a trait every individual is hardwired with from birth. However, integrity is a thankless trait; nobody is around after all. An individual cannot expect someone to clap, to smile, to thank them, to do anything actually. By definition, integrity should be something that is followed through with simply because an individual wishes to do what is correct, not because they expect accolades of any sort.
In an Army unit, where every individual must be willing to trust someone next to them, even with their life, the ability to do what is right at all times is a necessity. Without integrity, an Army unit will cease to function in a cohesive manner. How can any soldier be willing to look at a fellow soldier and trust they will help them in a time of need if the simple task of doing what is right is left out? At the same time, what is right? Can an amb...

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... to be the backbone of the Army unless I am willing and able, to do what is right at all times. I must be the standard-bearer. I must be beyond reproach. I must, at all times, conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the corps, the military service, and my country, regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I have recited a creed daily that embodies what makes an NCO. I have lived by that creed and always placed the needs of my soldiers above my own. I have sacrificed in times when I should not have. I have made sure those around me are better off than myself whenever I was able. What I mean with these hollow words, what I hope rings true from the message I am trying to convey, is that I have LIVED with integrity. I have EMBODIED integrity, even when it meant it would harm me; because no one is more professional than I.

SSG Thomas Michael Dean

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