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Concerning respect for those in the military, just spell it out

Everyone in military service deserves to be respected unless they forfeit that respect by some pattern of substandard performance, misconduct, or dereliction of duty.

Aboard my first Navy ship as a 17-year-old Seaman Recruit, I had the wonderful life-changing experience of being mentored and genuinely respected by a truly amazing Master Chief. As I moved up in rank to eventually become a senior officer, I always overtly respected my seniors and subordinates alike, just as that Master Chief demonstrated.

Today, the military has an awkward protocol of using upper and lower case letters in email signatures to differentiate between seniors and juniors in the chain of command. If you’re writing to a junior, it’s “vr.” If you’re writing to a senior, it’s “VR,” or some inconsistent combination of upper and lower case letters, dashes or slashes.

None of us should ever miss the opportunity to say, regardless of rank, “I very much respect you and your service.” We should dispense with this clumsy protocol nonsense. Every honorably serving military member and Department of Defense civilian employee should be addressed with “VR.” We should genuinely mean it, sometimes spell it out, and watch for opportunities to look them in the eye and actually say it.

Bob Ross

Executive director of the Connecticut Office of Military Affairs




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