Throughout my career I've met many wonderful people whom I admire, not because they are like me or share the same belief system, but because we share a common ethos of dignity and respect for one another.

I am truly inspired that our Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Nadja West, has made dignity and respect an area of emphasis in our Army Medicine ethos and culture. Dignity and respect are behaviors and beliefs that, when practiced and exhibited every day, inevitably create trusted relationships upon which to build the expeditionary, globally integrated medical force that is our Army Medicine vision.

When I arrived here as commanding general, I established relationship-building as a priority. Of course, dignity and respect are the pillars of building trusted relationships; to have such creates an environment of positive mutual regard. Improving the workplace environment, improving staff relationships and teambuilding must start with these two vital concepts and it must be practiced on a consistent basis to become an emotional competency.

I've witnessed great relationship building in just the short time that I've been commanding general here -- within our region, with our higher headquarters and with the commands we support. But there is always room for improvement and I am excited to be a part of the vision to develop stronger bonds with one another through dignity and respect.

Retired Maj. Gen. James Collins, former I Corps deputy commander and civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army for Washington recently commented that: "The key to relationships is trust, and the key to trust is communication. The thing that breaks trust is surprises."

As an Army and a nation, treating one another with dignity and respect should be instinctive. However, we just have to listen to the news on any given day to know that we are still a long way from achieving that state of mind and we are constantly "surprised" by the absence of dignity and respect among us. When the expectation of dignity and respect is violated, it creates an environment of distrust, miscommunication and broken relationships. There is a saying by an anonymous author that goes: "Live in the world as it should be, in hopes of what it can be." Dignity and respect should not be an end state, but the very spirit of what makes us Americans.

I am honored to be a part of the team of amazing professionals working within Regional Health Command -Central. We are a large organization of individuals, each with a set of unique characteristics that makes up a team - a family - of great professionals. Each person within RHC-C is a valuable member of the RHC-C family and critical to our mission of providing safe, high-quality, accessible, patient-centered healthcare and services to improve readiness, promote resiliency and advance wellness with those entrusted to our care. As we work together, side by side, please help me create an environment of positive mutual regard, interacting with dignity and respect -- always! One team...One Purpose...Conserving the Fighting Strength