• Published
  • By Maj. Douglas Hayes
  • 71st Communications Squadron commander
We are all Airmen who have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We serve the greatest country in the world in the greatest Air Force in the world.

We are a diverse country and our military is a direct reflection of our diverse population. Respect is the key to our Air Force professionalism and culture. However, at times we can all fall short of respecting each other without even realizing that we are being disrespectful and unprofessional.

Respect is something we learn throughout our life whether through our family, schools, friends or church. We have all heard the phrases "treat others the way you want to be treated" and "respect your elders." One phrase you should add is "respect your fellow Airman."

From the beginning of our careers, we learn respect, and it is reinforced throughout our careers. We learn to respect our superiors and address them as Sir or Ma'am. We learn to stand when a superior comes into our work center and we learn to show respect to the colors when the national anthem is played.

We show respect to one another by treating each other with dignity and professionalism, without regard to race, gender, religion, personal attributes, or beliefs. Sometimes, we may not necessarily think we are disrespectful, but we are. Sexual or racial jokes are offensive and should not be part of our Air Force culture because they disrespect our fellow Airmen.

Additionally, creating or forwarding offensive e-mails and text messages is also disrespectful. As Air Force professionals, we need to think about what we say before we say it, think about what we type before we type it and think about what we send before we send it.

Along with the Army, Navy and Marines, the Air Force is entering a new era where respect and professionalism will again be keys to success. With the pending repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," gay and lesbian Airmen will soon be able to serve openly, without hiding their sexual orientation. In my opinion, any person who is qualified to serve, volunteers to serve and has taken the oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States is my fellow Airman. They have earned my respect and will be treated with dignity and professionalism. I ask you to do the same.

Diversity is part of what makes our Air Force great. People from all walks of life, from all over our country and from all over the world strive to be part of the greatest Air Force in the world. Our professionalism will enable us to adapt to any new environment.

As Wingmen, leaders and warriors, we must respect one another and ensure that those who disrespect our fellow Airmen are dealt with appropriately. The Air Force will not tolerate disrespect or unprofessional behavior at this or any time.

My bottom line: always respect your fellow Airmen and always be professional to one another.