National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds has urged defence force recruits to remain true to their oath and steer clear of negative people and influences.
Hinds made the remarks during his feature address at a passing-out parade for 153 members of the Regiment, Coast Guard and Air Guard at Teteron Barracks, Chaguaramas, on Monday.
He said the defence force is expected to counter internal and external threats to national security, and recruits had an individual responsibility to avoid any activities that could harm their credibility.
"Personally, it is very painful and embarrassing when I read a report to see a man or woman of colours desecrate those colours by finding yourselves in trouble with the laws of TT, arrested because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, keeping the wrong company, doing the wrong things.
"You have to be conscious, you have to be mindful and proud of the training you have had to ensure you do not fall prey to that kind of emptiness and recklessness. You are different, and therefore you must act it and live it."
Hinds also called on the relatives of the new recruits to encourage them to take their responsibilities seriously and if necessary confront them if they stray from their duties.
In commending the recruits, Hinds noted that their jobs as members of the defence force will be varied, from being called on to provide humanitarian relief in natural disasters to assisting the police in crime-fighting.
Citing his own experience as a police officer, Hinds said he did his best to uphold the values of the police service and implored the recruits to use the examples of their senior officers and put their sense of duty before personal gain.
He said it may appear that the senior officers of the protective services have an easier job than their subordinates, but they too had serious responsibilities.
"My observation, from where I stand as minister, is that the leadership of your organisations are called upon almost 24 hours a day to be at service to the people of this country, and therefore I will tell a different story."
Senior officers said the ceremony was historic one for two reasons. as it was the first passing-out parade for the defence force since the outbreak of the covid19 pandemic. and the first time all three branches of the defence force had shared a passing-out ceremony.
The officers said during the four-month training period, the barracks was placed in a "medical biosphere," where recruits and training officers were not allowed leave, operating in isolation, as applications and theoretical examinations were done online to limit interactions.
At the ceremony 89 members of the Regiment, 39 members of the Coast Guard and 25 members of the Air Guard passed out.