18 August 2014

Respect: Religion and the Military

As leaders, we should automatically respect our subordinates at all times. There is a stark difference between leadership and dictatorship.  As soon as the leaders in the military figure this out, they will notice a peak in the retention rate of their Soldiers. 

I have communicated with over 300 Soldiers who are eligible to extend their enlistment contract within the past few months and was shocked to hear the responses from some of them. One Soldier mentioned, “I would remain in the military but cannot understand why I’m getting cursed out when asked to do something. I am a grown man!”  I asked this same Soldier if he’d discuss with his leaders the disrespect he feels and he said that he had spoken with them about it. My final question to him was, “So what did they say?” He replied, “They said that I am a Soldier and if I can’t handle it, get out!”

As a leader myself, I apologized to this Soldier and informed him that some leaders are called leaders because of their position or title, not because of their leadership. I then annotated in the retention book that he was not going to extend his contract but instead, leave the military because of the disrespect from his leadership.

Must a Soldier be a Chaplain to get respected? Can a Soldier who informs his or her chain of command that the speaking of profanity is against their religion be provided the same respect that a chaplain receives? Should fellow Soldiers respect these Soldiers? To me, the answer is quite simple. We should.

I am one of these Soldiers. I am a non-paid minister at a local church. The Soldiers who are aware of this duty respect the fact I am a Soldier and a minister. I expressed to others that I would like for them to be themselves while in my presence, as I would perceive unrealism if they would change their talk, speech, or attitude just because I was standing around in the vicinity. Some disagreed but others said okay and would use profanity as if I’m not around. It didn’t then and doesn’t bother me a bit. However, there might be Soldiers that are affected by vulgar language and I believe this should be respected.

If smoking a cigarette around a non-smoker is a sign of disrespect, I believe using profanity around a non-profanity speaker falls within the same guidelines. Leaders must understand that profanity can be damning to a lot of people. The “F” word has been known to cause havoc, begin fights, and unfortunately result in someone being killed. To tell a Soldier to deal with the disrespect is unacceptable.

This is not a new Army. Respect began when the Army began.

Comment below or start the discussion here and connect within the military community.

*These opinions belong to the writer and in no way reflect the views of the DoD or other departments of the US government.

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