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Yellow journalism is alive and well in this country. A trip to the grocery store and a quick glance at magazine racks next to checkout line reminds us of our insatiable appetite for the latest gossip. Whether in print, television, radio, or online you just can't escape it! The days when we'd watch the evening news captivated by the delivery and credibility of Walter Cronkite (1916-2009) have long passed. Today, we're continually bombarded with "puff pieces" masquerading as news.

You turn on the TV and an overly sensationalized story about a Veteran pierces the airwaves. You browse the internet and that same story hits you again. Your favorite social media outlet features post after repost of that same negative story about a Troop gone bad.

Radio Host Paul Harvey (1918-2009) hosted a well-known feature called The Rest of the Story (TROTS). In it, he opened the segment announcing, "You know what the news is, in a minute you're going to hear the REST of the STORY". In this time of extended deployments and continuous military action, we need to remind people what the ideal military person is all about.

Military service involves the pursuit of excellence. Leadership excellence is everyone's goal.

People forget all of the work performed by Military Leaders at all levels. Since Military life remains a mystery to most, gaining a full understanding of what military leadership truly strives to accomplish takes effort. Yet, the influence of the media can't be denied. I just think a stronger message on the realities of those in uniform needs to be told - a message powerful enough to drown out the bias.

Knowing and sharing the concept of military leadership can help dispel the military myth that's so prevalent in the media and the minds of many.

That said, I'd like to share some leadership information that comes from the U.S. Army's Field Manual (FM), FM 6-22 (a.k.a. FM 22-100) Army Leadership: Competent, Confident, and Agile. Keep in mind that all branches of service have similar publications too!

"Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization."

2-11. "Command is about sacred trust. Nowhere else do superiors have to answer for how their subordinates live and act beyond duty hours. Society and the Army look to commanders to ensure that Soldiers and Army civilians receive the proper training and care, uphold expected values, and accomplish assigned missions."

3-37. "Direct leaders generally experience more certainty and less complexity than organizational and strategic leaders. Mainly, they are close enough to the action to determine or address problems. Examples of direct leadership tasks are monitoring and coordinating team efforts, providing clear and concise mission intent, and setting expectations for performance."

3-56. "Within the informal network, norms develop for acceptable and unacceptable influence. Studies have shown that groups who do not develop norms of behavior lose their ties and group status."

4-1. "Character, a person's moral and ethical qualities, helps determine what is right and gives a leader motivation to do what is appropriate, regardless of the circumstances or the consequences. An informed ethical conscience consistent with the Army Values strengthens leaders to make the right choices when faced with tough issues. Since Army leaders seek to do what is right and inspire others to do the same, they must embody these values."

Army Values

4-17. "In rare cases, a leader's sense of duty also has to detect and prevent an illegal order. Duty requires refusal to obey itleaders have no choice but to do what is ethically and legally right."

4-34. "Leaders cannot hide what they do, but must carefully decide how to act. Army leaders are always on display. To instill the Army Values in others, leaders must demonstrate them personally. Personal values may extend beyond the Army Values, to include such things as political, cultural, or religious beliefs. However, as an Army leader and a person of integrity, these values should reinforce, not contradict, the Army Values."

4-65. "In combat, ethical choices are not always easy. The right thing may not only be unpopular, but dangerous as well. Complex and dangerous situations often reveal who is a leader of character and who is not." Warrant Officer Thompson at My Lai, Vietnam.

4-74. Under normal circumstances, a leader executes a superior leader's decision with energy and enthusiasm. The only exception would be illegal orders, which a leader has a duty to disobey. If a Soldier perceives that an order is illegal, that Soldier should be sure the details of the order and its original intent are fully understood. The Soldier should seek immediate clarification from the person who gave it before proceeding.

And finally, our first Commander-in-Chief summed it up best:

"War must be carried on systematically, and to do it you must have men of character activated by principles of honor." George Washington Commander, Continental Army (1775-81) and President of the United States (1789-97)

We may never know all the specifics or details of the next story involving one of our Brother and Sisters in Arms, but one thing's for sure: We can remind others about the leadership values and goals of military leadership excellence. We can help those who don't understand military life think twice before making a judgment call the next time yellow journalism hits the airwaves.