Culture of respect

Commentary by Brig. Gen. Patrick X. Mordente
86th Airlift Wing commander

“Yes, ma’am.” “No, sir.”

The golden rule with relationships professionally and personally holds that respect is a reciprocal and two-way process. This rule can be a tool in the toolkit of every Airman — where we treat people with consideration and esteem and value their worth.

What do you feel when you hear the words “ma’am” or “sir”? I can’t answer for everyone, but for me it’s an overall positive feeling. When afforded this level of respect, never once have I thought poorly of the person speaking these words. If you’ve heard me speak, you know that I often refer to this as fostering or creating a culture of respect. It’s the idea that your respect and value of another human being has the power of changing an entire organization. Mission effectiveness hinges on respect, and we can all contribute to success through respectful words and actions.

Whether you are addressing your direct supervisor or a fellow Airman, respecting someone’s worth is always the right choice.

Small things matter in so many ways. On a daily basis, you have the ability to brighten someone’s day by presenting yourself as a sharp Airman and capturing the spirit of the Air Force. Greeting someone with direct eye contact into your organization has the ability to shape your relationship with that person. These small tokens of respect and dignity are a reflection of our core values and acknowledge the excellence in each of us.

“Welcome to Ramstein.”

You may have heard these words spoken by our security forces professionals at the gates. These words are a professional greeting that highlight the professionalism of our defenders and signify the culture of respect I would like to see maintained by Team Ramstein. Everyone who goes through our gates needs to be treated with dignity from the moment they arrive, and it’s paramount we all ensure this spirit of respect is sustained everywhere on Ramstein Air Base and surrounding installations.

As guests in a foreign country, we set the example. Your interactions with neighbors and during your European travels may be the only contact some people have with an American their entire lives. I encourage you all to be that example that resonates as a beacon of excellence.

A culture of respect is the conduit to remaining the world’s premier Air Force. Failing to create this environment threatens the trust and discipline that is the strength of our military. The negative and serious effects of an Air Force culture lacking respect directly hinders mission effectiveness, our people, and is a betrayal of the very oath we have all taken.

Shaping the future force begins and ends with our respect for one another today.