MEMPHIS – Two new officers became members of an elite group – the less than 1% of the U.S. population who serve in the armed forces – during an Army commissioning ceremony at the University of Memphis, Aug. 27.

During the university’s Tiger Battalion’s ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Finis Dodson, command sergeant major of the Space and Missile Defense Command, advised the new officers, 2nd Lt. Diamon Thomas and 2nd Lt. Mitchell Wisdom, to define who they are and how they want to be known.

“As you start and continue your military journey, who are you?” Dodson said. “When you get in front of Soldiers … your character base is going to be defined by what you do on a daily basis. It’s going to be defined by what you do when someone is looking at you or defined by what you do when someone is not looking at you.”

Dodson, who has served for 34 years, referred to himself as a seasoned command sergeant major, and told the audience he knows who he is and what he can do. He said the most important thing the new officers can do is to take care of their troops and let them know they are there for them.

“No matter where you are in life, how you treat people is going to be defined by how people want to relate to you,” he said. “That goes into dignity, respect, accountability, and you standing up for them.”

Dodson told the officers that the name for themselves they develop through their choices, behaviors and actions will follow them, whether they like it or not.

“No matter what you do or how you do it, make sure your character resonates with the Army values, and make sure it resonates with your family,” he said.

Despite the world continuing to makes service members’ jobs critical, the Army must remain committed to developing highly trained Soldiers, Dodson said.

“Can we present forces that are technically and tactically proficient?” he asked. “The answer is yes.”

Part of what makes Soldiers proficient is counseling and correction, he said.

“We take care of one another,” Dodson said. “And that’s what has to be maintained, whether it’s you telling someone when they’re right, they’re right; when they’re wrong, tell them in the right way: dignity and respect. There’s nothing wrong with correction when you do it the right way. That’s how people get better.

“Some people look at counseling as a negative, but counseling is so important. There is nothing wrong with somebody telling me how to get better, or what I’m doing right, and how to strengthen myself.”

On behalf of Army senior leaders, Dodson thanked the new officers for their service.

“We’re proud of you,” he said. “We appreciate you and look forward to what you’re going to do in the military. Show us what you’re going to develop and what you’re going to leave as a legacy.”

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