Editor’s note: Commentary by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith. This is the sixth article in an ongoing series in which the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center staff and faculty share their perspectives and spark discussion about the organization’s lines of effort.

There are people in this world that I’ve never met that would stand unfulfilled in an extended handshake to me as well as there are strangers that I would risk my life protecting. In my face-to-face dealings with leaders, coworkers, people, and groups, gaining and giving my respect lies somewhere subjectively between those poles.

I believe that understanding respect is an introspective journey to how and why we value others, organizations, and ourselves. As they say in the office and on the battlefield, leaders cannot demand our respect; they must earn it through repeated actions that support our ideals.

The playing of The U.S. Air Force song is one of the few moments we have to sing out with gusto for the service. In basic training, we sang loud in cadence, not only to keep in step but with a feeling of teamwork that the Airman next to us bellowed out “Mama, Mama, Can’t You See” or “Everywhere We Go.” A squeaky or off-key voice was of little attention. The mindset was to build confidence, so the louder we sounded off in rhythm, the better the formation looked.

Faculty and staff at the U.S. Air Force’s enlisted professional military education center in East Tennessee said that the graduations of three EPME classes last month closed out a fiscal year of significant accomplishments.

Classes NCO Academy 18-6, Airman Leadership School 18-10, and ALS Blended Learning Course 18-11, all graduated EPME on the last week of September. In total, the Chief Master Sergeant Paul H. Lankford EPME Center graduated 1,894 students over the previous 12 months.

An Airman assigned in cyber operations at the Air National Guard’s education center said that dressing up as a comic character parody for charitable events is a valuable and rewarding way to reach out to the community where he’s assigned.

“Cause-play [dressing in costume for a cause] has been my interest and brings so much joy to others,” Master Sgt. Robert A. Pickler said.