VICKSBURG, Miss. - Respect is usually visible in the way someone treats those around them, whether peers, subordinates or superiors. For one U.S. Army Reserve Soldier, this is seen in his day-to-day interactions.
Sgt. Terry A. Speck Jr., a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 854th Engineer Battalion, exemplifies this value, according to his superiors.
Speck is the battalion medic, responsible for nine medics and a driving force for medical solutions in the battalion.
"He's been the go-to guy for anything involving medical," said Capt. Lawrence Lee, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 854th Engineer Battalion. "He knows his job well, he knows who to talk to, he knows who the target audience is in order to get the medical readiness correct overall for our entire battalion."
The Army defines respect as: "Treat people as they should be treated. In the Soldier's Code, we pledge to "treat others with dignity and respect while expecting others to do the same." Respect is what allows us to appreciate the best in other people. Respect is trusting that all people have done their jobs and fulfilled their duty. And self-respect is a vital ingredient with the Army value of respect, which results from knowing you have put forth your best effort. The Army is one team and each of us has something to contribute."
Speck believes respect goes a step further and also involves the approach of how you treat people, not just the act.
"To define respect I think a lot of people go to treat people as you want to be treated and I do believe that wholeheartedly however, I also believe that respect is something that is given and not earned whereas other people think it's earned and not given," said Speck. "In my opinion, to define respect it's the way in which we treat people, but also how we go about treating those people. You can treat people with respect, but also be perceived as offending them because of the way in which you may carry yourself, the way in which you may do your job."
Speck, a Reading, Pennsylvania, native, believes this approach is part of why his superiors see so much respect within him. He says he treats people the way they should be treated by recognizing variety in people.
"I think I do that by understanding that everybody is different and everybody's position is different, everybody's life situation is different. We may not have all the information about that person, but the one thing we can do is treat them the way people should be treated and respect goes very far in doing that," said Speck. "Just addressing people in a proper manner, using positivity and a positive tone when you address people, goes a very long way. I think I do that and people recognize that because it's very important to make sure you're talking to people the right way and I think that's the start of it."
Being a medical professional, his bedside manner also speaks to this treatment.
"His mannerism, he is extremely tactful. It's kind of hard being a medic, you have to tell things as they are, but he does it in a way that is not demeaning," said Lee. "As a medical professional his bedside manner is what I see is the best. He is very respectful. He knows his job. He will tell you in a very tactful way, but you feel good that you're being treated by him."
But it goes beyond just his patients.
"It does not matter if Sergeant Speck is working with enlisted Soldiers who are junior to him or officers which are senior to him, he treats all those that he contacts with the same type of utmost respect," said Maj. Mary Jo Vernon, medical readiness officer, 412th Theater Engineer Command.
Another part of the Army's definition of respect is to appreciate the best in other people. Speck does this whenever he treats a patient.
"I think he sees the good in everyone. All the things you see as a medic, you don't normally see the best in people when the medic is seeing you ... but he does his job in that he will do everything possible to get the patient back onto their feet and back to where they need to be," said Lee. "So, I think he looks at the best in people in that in the basis of his job, that's what he's trying to do: he's trying to get the best out of you."
Speck may be good at seeing the best in his patients, but he thinks he sees the best in people because they build something greater together.
"Everybody has a different role in the military and without the other person we may not be able to do our job. I respect the fact that I don't have all the skills other people do and they don't have all the skills I have," said Speck. "I can appreciate that I don't hold some of those skills or abilities other people do and that allows me to respect them in a way that helps me better do my job. I understand that I'm only one piece of the puzzle and everybody else is another piece of the puzzle. Without all the pieces of the puzzle we can't get a good picture of where we came from or where we're going. I think by respecting people in that way, we can understand better where we came from and where we're going."
Seeing the best in people motivates Speck to assist any Soldier to the best of his ability.
"He has a quiet dignity when working with those Soldiers who everyone else has given up on or has written off as a Soldier who can't be assisted. He works with these Soldiers, does not get frustrated and advocates for them day in and day out," said Vernon. "He takes everyone's workload into consideration, even when they may not following through and gives them a "gentle" push in the right direction. Including me sometimes!"
Trusting people to do their jobs and fulfill their duty is another aspect of respect. For Speck, seeing the best in people and trusting them goes hand-in-hand.
"I think by having confidence and knowing I do my job to the best of my abilities and I put the effort forth to try and try until I can get the job done, I expect that in other people," said Speck. "Instead of looking at them and trying to nitpick or pick things out that they're not doing, I try to look it as: that person has been trained, that person has been given a task and now they're going to do the task because that's what's required of us as Soldiers. I know that I would do that so I give the other people the benefit of the doubt and respect that they will do it as well."
Speck not only trusts those around him to complete their missions, but has that trust from his superiors.
"He has the trust of everyone, being a battalion level asset here. He puts a lot of trust in people in that the guidance that he's giving our commanders and leaders, that's information they need for unit success," said Lee. "He is putting a lot of trust in people in that they are taken to heed what he is saying and taking his guidance and applying it to their companies to ensure their own success. Being trustworthy and reciprocating that trust is a sign of respect."
While Speck is trusted throughout the battalion, his self-respect is what keeps him trying and pushing himself to earn that trust.
"It's not so much a philosophy as way of which to do things: I was brought up that if you can't do something the first time, continue to try. For me to have self-respect, I always just have to continue to try and try and try," said Speck. "I've prided myself on knowing that I don't know everything and I think some people don't have that aspect in them because they don't want to be looked down upon as not knowing something. For myself, I've always tried to come at it from a place of I can learn something everyday, I can help teach something everyday and if I do those two things, the people I work for will respect that I do the job and the people that work for me will understand I respect them for doing their job."
The Army's definition of respect says, "each of us has something to contribute." Speck contributions, as seen by his superiors, focus on his Soldiers through training and the battalion through medical readiness.
"He's definitely a contributor. Everything he does he is for the organization and for his team," said Lee. "As a first-line leader making sure his medics are fully trained and qualified. He goes to great pains to research continuing education that his medics need in order to stay qualified so they can properly treat Soldiers."
"He contributes by keeping myself and the battalion commander informed of where we stand on medical readiness, which is a huge part. It sounds like it's a metricism, but it really is ensuring Soldiers are ready," Lee added. "Medical is a big piece of being ready. He contributes to our readiness, that's the bottom line."
For Speck, that contribution can be broken down to one word: availability.
"The biggest thing I think I contribute, especially from my direct subordinates, I try to contribute to them in a daily aspect. I think by understanding your Soldiers and letting them know you're there for them, you will get more out of that individual because they will trust in you more," said Speck. "I think I provide a value of trust into my direct subordinates at least and also into my command as well. They know if there is a job that needs to be done they can always rely on me to get it done. That goes for my Soldiers, too. They know my door is always open and if they need anything whether it's on a professional level, a personal level or just to run something by me for advice, they know I'm always here. I think availability is probably one of those things I contribute."
Speck believes this growth in respect really solidified from his recent deployment. He deployed to Afghanistan with the 333rd Engineer Company in 2013.
"I think in respecting that we were over there to help out gave me a good perspective and changed my perspective a little bit. You always hear the negative things going on over there, how bad things can be, but it helped change my perspective to look at it that we weren't there to just do our jobs, we were there to influence life for people," said Speck. "I think by respecting those people and wanting the best for them, it helped me in understanding how to respect people in general and respect them better."
The deployment also gave Speck insight into his family life. His daughter was born while he was overseas and didn't meet her until she was 6-months-old.
"At first I didn't understand how important it was to be a military spouse and honestly with my wife's support and the way she handled things while I was deployed, it made me respect her even more for being willing to do those things," he said.
Now, Speck see that his family serves as well and deserves his respect.
"I take a lot of pride in my job and sometimes we get caught up in the Army because we're away and we have so much to take care of and we want to do it the best that we can. I have a great respect for the sacrifices our families make, my wife in particular," said Speck. "She sacrifices having a dual parent in the home for extended periods of time, my children sacrifice by understanding that their dad has to be away sometime because he does a demanding job and he takes a lot of pride in it. I feel like that gets lost in the shuffle sometimes and a lot of times we tend to overlook the small things. Just by respecting that your family does serve as well, it helps me to show the respect to them and an appreciation for what they do as well, for what they go through."
While Speck's respect of his family, himself and others has been an internal growth, he also realizes there have been outside factors.
"I really would like to thank those who have gotten me to where I am and that have respected me enough to trust me to get the job done," he said. "I think that's why I have some of the perspective that I do and the quality of respect. If it wasn't for the leadership that has taught me to get where I am today, I would not be here."
Editors note: This is the third in a seven part series about Soldiers within the 412th Theater Engineer Command who exemplify the Army Values.