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Diversity week at 'The Rock': A final perspective

  • Published
  • By Maj. Jennifer Nevius
  • 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron commander
Editor's note: Observances to recognize the achievements and contributions of America's diverse ethnic and cultural groups are held to increase awareness, mutual respect and understanding. The Department of Defense supports observances through the development of local programs of recognition and diverse activities. The 386th Air Expeditionary Wing designated the fourth week in March to pay tribute to the diversity that makes our nation and military strong.

This past week we focused on diversity here at the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing. As a recap, we dedicated days to disability awareness, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, women's history and a Day of Remembrance.

These are many of the traditional ways diversity is defined. However, the Air Force has a much more all-encompassing approach to diversity that extends beyond the traditional boundaries of race, ethnicity, sex or religion.

If you think that diversity only applies to the traditional areas, then consider expanding your definition. Just like no two people have the same DNA, no two Airmen are the same. Every Airman is unique and brings a diverse array of attributes, ideas and experiences to the Air Force.

All Airmen enter the Air Force with a different set of skills based on their life experiences prior to entering the military. In which part of the country did they grow up? Was the Airman a military brat or did the Airman have no experiences with the military? What was their financial situation?

In this era of the "total force," is the Airman an active duty member, an Air National Guardsman, or an Air Force Reservist? Did the Airman enter the military straight out of school or did they gain civilian work experience prior to joining the Air Force? Is the Airman from a small town, the suburbs or a big city? These are just a few of the things that add to our diversity.

The mere fact that we represent a cross-section of America brings diversity into our Air Force. Is it a coincidence that every U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senator receive a specific allocation for sending their constituents to the service academies? Of course not, this is a way to bring diversity into our officer corps.

Is it cost effective to keep small recruiting offices open across America when the offices in the major cities might be able to produce 100 percent of our accessions each year? At first look, it may not appear to be cost effective. However, those small recruiting offices are worth every penny due to the intangible benefits our military forces receive by bringing together groups of Americans from all walks of life.

Why is diversity important to our Air Force? When it's time to solve a problem, it usually helps to get different ideas from different people. If we didn't bring in a diverse group of Airmen, we'd get the same ideas and solutions time after time. To stay at the top of our game and to complete the Air Force mission effectively and efficiently, we need a diverse group of thinkers who can bring in different ideas and approaches to solving problems and making the mission happen.

Next time your unit or your duty section is working on an issue, remember that you have a pool of very diverse Airmen at your fingertips. Use them for new ideas and appreciate the diversity of thought they bring to the table to help you complete your mission for the Air Force.

For more information, visit the Air Force Diversity Web site at