The buck stops here

  • Published
  • By Col. Jay Cloutier
  • 39th Medical Group commander
"The Buck Stops Here!" are words made famous by our 33rd president Harry S. Truman, a Missourian farm boy who survived World War I and suffered several business failures, only to come back time after time. As President of the United States he shepherded many great world-changing events ... the end of WW II, the Berlin Airlift, NATO, the start of the Cold War, the Korean Conflict, the creation of the U.N., and the establishment of the Department of Defense and an independent Air Force. While these big events usually get overlooked and forgotten, he may be most remembered for his use of "the Buck Stops Here" quote.

During his administration there were years met with strife and economic downturns. The nation experienced railroad, coal, and steel strikes as well as many other labor issues stemming from the end of WW II and the return of a blustering economy. He took drastic steps like drafting every striking railroad worker into the Army to keep them employed, and nationalizing the coal industries. He always tried to do the right thing and even though he was rebuffed by the courts on some of his actions, he always maintained he did what was right for the country. It was during one of these down times that he utilized the now famous quote, "the Buck Stops Here." He used this folksy saying to connect with the common American ... he needed to convey to them that no matter what he was responsible for his actions and the current outcome, and that he was in charge. He didn't blame anyone, despite whether that person was the cause or not.

These simple words still apply to us today. We need to utilize this principle and take responsibility to do what is right, no matter what the consequences are each and every day. Many times we would rather push it off and let someone else deal with it. How many of us play the "shell game" just to get out of having to do a performance report? How many of us over-inflate the Enlisted Performance Reports just because we don't want them to think badly of us? How many of us push decisions up the chain so we don't have to be the "bad" guy and say no to a subordinate? We wouldn't accept that behavior in our personal life nor do we like hearing the phrase "it's not my job." It is our job ... on and off duty. We all need to practice the philosophy that the quote projects. We all need to take responsibility and do what is right, and not pass it on. We need to practice a little Missourian farm lessons given us by Truman ... Let the Buck Stop with YOU!