Character Program (Gold Book)


The West Point mission statement directs that "each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country." Our mission statement implies that each Cadet must internalize our shared values and aspire to live honorably at all times in all environments. The Gold Book explains how West Point's four programs develop moral, civic, social, performance, and leadership character, described in West Point's Character Development Strategy. The Gold Book also explains the responsibilities of the Brigade Tactical Department (BTD) and the Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic (SCPME) for planning , executing, and synchronizing character development activities that are not part of the military, academic , and physical programs.

Character development provides personal and professional growth for every Cadet and aligns their previous set of values and behavior with those that the Army and the Nation deserve and demand from West Point graduates.  The transitional and developmental process begins with education about acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Behavior change occurs through structured reflection and introspection following a challenging developmental experience . The structured reflection helps Cadets understand what they learned and introspection creates a desire to change behavior towards acceptable professional standards.

Honorable behavior is the manifestation of a Cadet's new character. Cadets demonstrate their strong character by living honorably in all situations. Honorable actions happen naturally because they flow from internalized Army Values . I find the analogy of a full coffee cup to be a useful illustration of character . If someone bumps your elbow while you are holding a full cup, the contents automatically spill out. Likewise, our actions that "spill out" when our character is tested are the manifestation of the character inside each of us. With the right character, our actions will demonstrate honorable living.

As you read the Gold Book, I ask each of you to consider your responsibility to be a role model, counselor, coach, and mentor. Invest time in Cadets so they see and realize we are not motivated by fear of consequences , but rather aspire to an ethic worthy of the Army Profession that serves the American people. They need you to help them "connect the dots" between  their West Point activities, their character development, and their future service. We will ensure all our graduates are leaders of character only when everyone contributes to character development.

Gold Book.pdf