My name is Debra LeCompte, and my husband is COL (RET) Randy LeCompte, an honor graduate of West Point, (top five percent of the class of 1981.) My husband would love to attend his 31st reunion this year, but is currently serving with the State Department in Iraq in the civilian sector. My father and grand-father were Soldiers as well, my daughter was a Soldier, and she is now serving in the civilian sector in Germany where she lives with our two grand-daughters as her husband serves in Afghanistan. Our other son-in-law was blown off a recon vehicle in 2003 in Iraq, and can no longer serve, but he would give everything in him to do so.
My family, especially my husband, has been recipients of the all that is good in the Army. We are better as a family because of the Army, as my husband says, "the Army gives one skills, identity, and purposeful living." We have all also been the recipients of very bad things from the Army because of the problem of ethics in the Army. The Academy is not achieving it's goals of teaching ethics. The Army is not, because of the incestuous relationships involved in its' "self-policing," truly promoting ethics. I don't think anyone who reads this, (if anyone does,) can with any honesty argue that point.
We had a young intern from West Point in our home for dinner while my husband was still employed with BAE Systems, as was our custom with each of the interns who spent part of their summer in the Sealy, Texas plant. My husband being the man he is, posed the question, "So, which of the Army Values do you think is the most important?" For a couple of minutes the young man could not answer, he couldn't remember any of the seven values, then he at first said, "leadership." My husband reminded him that was an acronym used in another set of characteristics promoted by the Army. Finally the young man said loyalty. That is a frequent answer among Soldiers. Both my husband and I disagree with this answer every time we hear it , for so many times a Soldier means by that response loyalty to his unit or to a commander. There are times, more frequently than I would like to acknowledge, when that is not the honorable or right thing to do. In order for loyalty to be worthy of first mention, it should be loyalty to honor and doing the right thing. Too many times loyalty in the Army is affected by who does your OER, honor never is.
When a firstie can't tell a retired colonel who earned a Bronze Star in Afghanistan what the Seven Army Values are.... your ethics training is a monumental failure in my opinion. That is without mentioning the First Sergeant with 19 years in, who by all reports was an outstanding mentor and man of honor, who was sleeping on the floor of a Garland, Texas jail, all because he came up against corrupt command. I can't mention every miscarriage of honor that I have knowledge of, there are too many innocent people involved. My great sorrow is I am but a grain of sand in the scheme of the Army Family, but I know of dozens of atrocities. It is like rats, for every instance of lack of honor that I know of, there are a hundred I am not aware of. Even though I know of the rats, like my husband, I love the Army, the real Army, the one that belongs to the hearts of those who nobly serve, and I will fight for the honor, integrity, and reputation of that Band of Brothers, (and Sisters,) until the day I die. I believe there is an answer to this breakdown in ethics.
The answer West Point is ACCOUNTABILITY. That accountability should begin with generals, not cadets. Every time self serving corruption prevails, those who would serve with integrity are driven away. Who, of any character, wants to associate with lack of integrity? Who wants to risk their own career and reputation to those lacking integrity? Just as those who would serve with honor are driven away, those lacking in it are reinforced in behavior which is dishonorable. They receive the message you have to "go along to get along." No matter who you are, what your rank, the answer is ACCOUNTABILITY. It only exists when those controlling the "self policing" are possessed of honor. As the guardians of the honor of the United States Army those meetings where accountability by individuals is weighed and measured in the balance must be populated by men and women of honor and the COURAGE to execute The Code of Military Justice. Surely, you can scrape together enough general officers with moral courage to fill the positions on those committees?
West Point, you are accountable for a firstie who doesn't know The Seven Army Values as he enters his senior year. A web site about honor and integrity won't do it, all the training, classes, and instruction in the world, won't do it, only accountability without bias, favor, or self serving will forge a force where honor and integrity are the norm, not the exception. When every Soldier believes and knows that lack of honor will not be tolerated under any circumstances, when they know power mongering will be met with swift and sure justice, and lying is unacceptable and will result in dire consequences, will honor and integrity, and a force devoted to The Seven Army Values prevail.
I have been very plain spoken, and in the past it has not done me a bit of good. Well, there was the commander of the First Sergeant sleeping on the jail floor who was relieved of command, but please understand, I speak plainly because of my devotion to, and respect of all those who live "uncommon lives." Their families as well depend upon the honor of leadership. I wish the Academy, The Army, and every Soldier serving only the best. It is owed to them.
With Respect and Sincerity,