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Cadet Character Development Program Changes Announced

Posted on December 19, 2018 at 9:51 AM by Joanna Lee


Cadet Character Development Program Changes Announced

by Ch, Lt Col Tim Miner


On Monday, 10 December, the Chief of Chaplains of the Civil Air Patrol, Chaplain (Colonel) Charlie Sattgast, announced a sea-change in the way cadets receive their character development training beginning in January 2019. This program change is the culmination of over 22 months of work and coordination by the Chaplain Corps and the Cadet Programs team. The finished effort is a partnership of CAP and the Center for Character and Leadership Development (CCLD) at the United States Air Force Academy.

In February 2017, under the leadership of the past Chief of CAP Chaplains, Chaplain (Colonel) Jay Hughes, a team of chaplains, CDIs, and the Director of Cadet Programs, Curt Lafond, visited the USAF Academy CCLD to learn how cadets destined for military leadership undergo their character training over a four-year training cycle. Since CAP provides over ten percent of the entering class of cadets every year it made sense to learn and adapt to the needs of one of the premier character training programs in world.

For the past decade CAP character instruction placed cadets in scenarios that made them think about their responses and decisions. This form of ethical instruction is called Situation Ethics and allows members of the group to discuss how the same event might produce different responses in different individuals based on the perceived facts and assumptions. Rules are the basis for “right” actions.

The CAP team discovered that USAFA and other leadership schools have evolved their instruction to concentrate on behaviors instead of rules. Beginning in January 2019, the CAP program, like USAFA, will teach virtues, or the behaviors that define excellence in humans. Over a two-year cycle, all cadets will discuss 24 virtues that will produce “habitual” right actions, done in the right way, at the right time. Virtue Ethics is over 2300 years old and has long been a pillar of Western philosophical thinking. The concept of virtues shaped early European society and religion. From the perspective of Virtue Ethics there is a right behavior in all situations.

To maximize the effectiveness of the program, beginning in January, all cadets in all units will study the same virtue. Junior cadet officers, Phase 3 cadets, will assist the instructing senior member as facilitators, making them active role models of the desired behavior.

The virtues for 2019 will be:

1. Integrity
2. Excellence
3. Grit
4. Vision (for my life)
5. Persistence
6. Courage
7. Bounce Back
8. Confidence
9. Resilience
10. Humility
11. Patience
12. A Sense of Humor

The Drug Demand Reduction (DDR) and Medal of Honor programs are now incorporated into several of the virtue lessons over the course of the year.

For the first time, all chaplains, CDIs, and commanders who instruct in the program will receive state-of-the-art training in how to present the material and facilitate the discussion of ethics in young learners. These online videos, now available in the CAP Learning Management System, were produced in a partnership between the Air Force Academy and CAP.

In his announcement, Chaplain Sattgast thanked all the chaplains, Character Development Instructors and unit commanders for their work. He said, “Thank you for the investment you make in our CAP cadets. They are truly the future leaders of the world. Your efforts in helping them develop solid character as leaders will have a lasting positive impact on our world as they move on into the military, business, government, the arts, and finance. It is truly one of the best investments you will ever make!”

CAP chaplains, character development instructors, and the director of Cadet Programs gathered at the United States Air Force Academy in February 2017 to learn about how virtue ethics education produces the best behaviors in future leaders.


Finally, learn more about Values for Living 2.0 here and plan to join us for one of our live learning webinars in January.

Categories: Changes, Character

I have no argument with the learning structure of "virtues." My comment/question: can any individual discussed "virtue" be learned/exampled out of the CAP classroom? We have lost Cadets due to boredom. I might envision discussing any particular "virtue" in a community setting, such as a nursing home visit. This allows a discussion of the topic while getting out in the community. I would appreciate your comments.
Ethan U Davis | 3/31/20 at 6:54 PM
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