A culture of professional respect

  • Published
  • By Col. Casey D. Eaton
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing
As proud members of the United States Air Force, we chose to join the military and live up to its standards...emphasis on chose... we asked to be a part of this great organization. By doing this, we voluntarily subjected ourselves to a code of integrity, service and excellence that in many cases even exceeds the standards set forth in other communities across this great nation. Some of this is obvious and captured in our lofty mission of safeguarding our nation's freedom. The tougher part to define is our culture, which is symbolically captured by raising our hand and committing to being somewhat more...and somewhat stronger. This commitment is embodied in something I call "professional respect" which is at the origin of each core value. Respect for oneself, respect for others and respect for the mission.

Integrity first (Respect for oneself)

A breach of integrity is a breach of self-respect. When runners prepare for a race, they must have the willingness to push themselves in training, especially when they're the only ones watching the clock. The race will then determine who trained well and who took shortcuts. The same can be said for us as Airmen, as we prepare for inspections, tests, and exercises. We must uphold our integrity even in the most challenging times. When a crisis occurs, our preparation will be reflected in our performance and our true integrity will shine through.

Service before self (Respect for others)

Taken from recent headlines, it would appear that the military is struggling with a couple respect issues right now...namely sexual assault and harassment. At the core of this challenge is the lack of respect for others. Two general responses I frequently hear is that somehow society is partially to blame (TV, movies, video games, etc) by normalizing aspects of this and that the military faces a daunting challenge due to the disconnect between our values and these other perceived "social norms." The second disappointing thing I hear is "well, I never do those types of things, so I'm OK." When I hear that, I ask if they've ever witnessed inappropriate comments or actions and if they stepped in to stop it. Disappointingly, the answer is frequently "yes" and "no". For both of the examples above, I simply refer to my opening paragraph, WE VOLUNTEERED TO DO THIS. We all committed to being...somewhat more...and somewhat stronger. The idea of Service before self is about respecting others and showing that we are here for a cause bigger than ourselves. We have all taken an oath to unfailingly respect and defend that cause...the commitment to human decency, equal opportunity, courtesies and basic rights.

Excellence in all we do (Respect for the mission)

When I think of excellence, I think of the Honor Guard. I think about the focus and control it takes to properly and respectfully provide honors at various events. I think about the absolute concentration necessary to fold a flag exactly right, perform a ceremony with precision, or find the exact words to say when thanking someone for their loved one's ultimate sacrifice. Excellence in all we do embodies taking pride in the commitment we have made and determining to do our absolute best no matter the task at hand.

Together, our core values reflect self-respect, respect for others, and respect for our mission. We live by these values and expect our Wingmen do the same. By upholding our core values, we uphold a culture of "professional respect" and a commitment to being...somewhat more...somewhat stronger. Thank you all for your professional respect.