Failure to go

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Gregory Wilson
  • 4th Civil Engineer Squadron acting first sergeant
Any member of the armed forces who, without authority fails to go to his appointed place of duty at the time prescribed goes from that place, absence himself or remains absent from his unit, organization or place of duty at which he is required to be at the time prescribed; shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. You may be considered absent without leave even if you miss an appointment.

Many Airmen today think missing an appointment is not a big deal. In reality for anyone, military or civilian, at an appointment with a military office; it is a big deal. It affects the budget that operates a wing. For example, today it cost $250 dollars for each missed dental appointment. This is broken down by having to pay the doctors' salaries, support staff and facility operation fees. If between a two-hour period 10 people miss a dental appointment, it cost the military $2,500. If you continue the math, missing an appointment can end up costing thousands of dollars a day. You can see missing one simple appointment can turn out to be very costly.

Not only does missing an appointment cost the military an ever increasing amount of money, it causes delays in deployment processing and can make you ineligible to deploy. Ineligibility could force someone to fill your mobility position with a short-notice tasking; in turn affecting many more lives. 

As Airmen, we schedule medical and dental appointments but we also have mandatory formations, which are appointments set by the unit commander. Some examples of these are unit physical training, commander's call, recognition ceremonies, pre-deployment training (i.e. chemical biological radiological nuclear explosive, self-aid buddy care, M-16, expeditionary combat skills training), as well as upgrade training with unit training managers, trainers, supervisors and more. When an Airman does not meet an appointment, it not only affects the individual but the office scheduling the appointment, flight and unit schedulers and manpower personnel who account for every hour every Airman serves. It causes unnecessary cost and mission setbacks.

In today's Air Force, the increased deployment tempo and these missed appointments not only bring discredit upon the individual missing the appointment but also sends a clear message you are not reliable to meet today's mission requirements. This action can also be construed as a wanton disregard for standing general orders to meet all scheduled appointments. Imagine being deployed and missing shift change, causing someone to have to remain on duty beyond their shift - which when deployed is usually a 12-hour shift. The tired Airman could make a mistake costing someone their life, because you failed to relieve them on time, placing an Airman in a situation they would not have been in had you been on time. This may sound extreme, but we all need to realize the ramifications of our actions when we miss an appointment.

This year alone 19 'failures to go' offenses occurred in the 4th Fighter Wing. This may not be a large number, but missing appointments can have a large impact on a career. One missed appointment could be the fall to an Airman being considered for a bad conduct discharge. Would you want to be someone released from the military for not attending appointments? This sends a clear message to a potential employer you cannot be trusted to handle the most minor of tasks, you are unreliable and in a sense you are not a person a potential employer would want working in their company.

Today, we are asked to increase our operations tempo and remain vigilant in protecting America's freedom and protecting interests vital to the United States. Next time you schedule an appointment, ensure you can make it; write it down, tell your supervisor, set an alarm. On the battlefield, Airmen have the ability to see the bigger picture. Keep those images in mind the next time you have a scheduled appointment or mandatory formation.