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Resnicoff: Taking oath involves personal change

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (June 30, 2005) -- When individuals take an oath to enter military service, a change happens in who they are and what their obligations are.

For Airmen, that change must involve a shift from the personal goals of a civilian to the greater goals of the Air Force, with an emphasis on the core values, said Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff, special assistant to the Air Force secretary and chief of staff for values and vision.

"When you raise your hand, take that oath and put on that uniform, you really do change from the situation of a citizen, from whom we would want a contribution to democracy and freedom, to putting your life on the line and total commitment," he said. "It means setting aside some personal agendas while you are part of a team facing greater issues that threaten us all."

Michael L. Dominguez, acting secretary of the Air Force, recently appointed Rabbi Resnicoff to review Air Force values-based programs, initiatives, policies and doctrine to ensure these areas are consistent with the Air Force core values.

"The idea of having a core values-based structure that will help us with decisions and policies throughout the Air Force is something we are taking very seriously," Rabbi Resnicoff said.

One thing the rabbi said he hopes to strengthen in the Air Force is an Airman's dependence on the core values -- integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do -- in their personal decision-making process.

"When you have had a difficult decision that involved ethics and values, how much time did you think about the Air Force core values to make that decision?" he asked. "I would like to get to the point where a man or woman in uniform who needs to make an ethical, moral or values decision can take a test using our core values."

The rabbi said he recognizes that Airmen have different values and beliefs, and he does not expect them to abandon those values or beliefs when they enter the service. He said the Air Force core values need to be integrated into the value system of every Airman.

"We do not expect everybody in the Air Force to have the same values," he said. "We are talking about core values. We have identified three of them. Those values are required, and without them, you shouldn't be in the Air Force."

Rabbi Resnicoff, who assumed his current position June 27, will focus his initial efforts on issues related to religious issues at the Air Force Academy, Colo.

The academy was recently reviewed by a team sent to investigate allegations of religious intolerance. The team produced a report that made recommendations on how to improve the religious climate at the school. Rabbi Resnicoff will advise senior Air Force leaders on how to implement those recommendations.