Diversity makes us stronger

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Emiliano Avila
  • 144th Logistics Readiness Squadron
Thirty-three years ago I started my Air Force career at Whiteman AFB, MO. As a young Hispanic Airmen from California who didn’t fish, hunt or listen to country music, going to the Midwest, was a challenge. To say the least, Whiteman did not have a very diverse group of personnel within their organization. They were very lean on their diverse ethnicities within the squadron too, and it was a tough reality check for me to fit in, especially coming straight from basic training. I learned any information that I could from my fellow Airmen, but after three years I decided to palace chase back to California and join the 144th Fighter Wing. What a difference it was to come to the California Air Guard from Whiteman AFB! When I got here, I finally felt accepted, appreciated and welcomed as part of the team, and I noticed a lot more diverse personnel within the squadron. It gave me a sense of belonging and motivated me to set my goals high so that I could to help better myself, the squadron and the wing.

In the Guard, we want our own community to reflect the communities we serve. We believe that a more diverse force is a stronger force, which is why we actively recruit men and women from minorities. And it’s why we welcome Americans from all religious beliefs and ethnic backgrounds. When you join the Guard, you’ll quickly find that the bonds you create while serving surpass any racial, gender, or cultural differences. I believe that adding the unique perspectives of all people to our units across the nation makes us a more efficient and effective force, and we better represents the diverse communities we serve. We all come together for one common cause; to support and defend our nation. Coming from different places, backgrounds, religions, and races just makes our military more powerful. The diverse makeup of the U.S. military is one of its greatest assets, and as a result it is a stronger, more effective and resilient force.

The following paragraph is from Whiteman Air Force Base’s Diversity and Inclusion webpage; it definitely hits the strong points across the enterprise, and it shows how things have changed in those 33 years:

“There is no other country in the world so widely diverse, yet so deeply committed to being unified as the United States of America. The challenges we face today are far too serious, and the implications of failure far too great, for our Air Force to do less than fully and inclusively leverage our nation’s greatest strength—our remarkably diverse people. Across the force, diversity of background, experience, demographics, perspectives, thought and organization are essential to our ultimate success in an increasingly competitive and dynamic global environment. As airpower advocates, we must be culturally competent and operationally relevant to effectively accomplish our various missions.”

Additionally, did you know that National Guard Bureau was recently named one of the top 25 national organizations when it comes to diversity and inclusion? That ranking comes from the Association of Employee Resource Groups and Diversity Councils, a human resources association that tracks diversity efforts among large-scale organizations.
Simply stated, having a positive attitude and treating everyone with dignity and respect will enhance readiness and help us achieve mission success. Throughout my career, diversity and inclusion have had greater emphasis, and it’s an emphasis for the better. I know that once felt included, I became motivated. Then I was able to grow and contribute in greater ways than I had ever imagined. And we’re seeing that focus grow from Whiteman AFB in Missouri to Fresno Air National Guard Base in California and across the world. Valuing diversity and inclusion across the U.S. Air Force will help us continually improve and maintain the world’s greatest Air Force.