GRAFENWOEHR, Germany (March 7, 2012) -- Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III visited Grafenwoehr March 6 and as a former Soldier and Army civilian, he reminded me of "old" traditional Army values, which made me wonder when the world had changed.

It seems that Sept. 11, 2001 did more than remove the towering institutions of commerce that crumbled that day in New York.

The Army is one of the most important, valuable institutions in our nation. Its business is people, Soldiers, civilians and family members are part of that Army machine. Chandler reminded hundreds of NCOs and officers attending a town hall meeting that it's important to be among the best.

As a whole, the force is shrinking and there are some preparations that need to happen, he said. There are also some decisions to be made.

He questioned the crowd. He asked how many Soldiers had decided to serve post-9-11. Many had enlisted following the terrorist attacks on our nation.

"You are our personal heroes. You came into the service knowing our nation was going to send you in harm's way," he said.

Chandler meant to empower the force. He told us we are in control of our own individual fates.

Further, let's not forget we have a responsibility to each other, he said. We've got to know what right looks like and make it happen.

It can never be bad to enforce the standards that keep people safe, happy, healthy, and those that maintain peace. When someone does a good job, they should be commended for it.

Lastly, I just had to throw this in because I personally wondered about some of the creative tattoos I see in our community. I submit that it's not just Soldiers, I think a lot of people have an affinity for body art.

Chandler said the Army regulations hadn't changed.

In regard to tattoos, Army Regulation 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia clearly states: "visible tattoos or brands on the neck, face or head are prohibited and tattoos on other areas of the body that are prejudicial to good order and discipline are also prohibited. Additionally, any type of tattoo or brand that is visible while wearing a Class A uniform and detracts from a soldierly appearance is prohibited."

Chandler said leadership makes a difference.

"If you are wearing a uniform, you are a member of the uniformed services. You have to present a professional appearance, he said."

I suppose it's a matter of personal preference if one wants the "Rolling Stones' lips" on her neck, although I do think Chandler makes a valid point. At some level, we are all leaders in our community.

I challenge you to consider this, we are working everyday among forces from partner nations. We are also living among host-nation families and the public, which have become our friends. If we make observations about ourselves that are unbecoming, or challenge the professionalism of our peers, imagine what others think? Imagine what the Soldiers and leaders think, those we come to rely on and work with daily.

Many will transition out of the military, but I encourage all to become familiar with community resources that will help with transition challenges. There are transition specialists and counselors to help Soldiers, civilians and family members find actionable solutions to move them toward the future.

We shouldn't lose sight that the future is only as bright as we make it.

(Denver Beaulieu-Hains writes for 7th U.S. Army Joint Multinational Training Command Public Affairs.)