Diversity brings strength to Total Force

  • Published
  • By Maj. Darin J. Durand
  • 310 SW EO Program Director

Diversity brings strength to Total Force
By Maj. Darin J. Durand
Equal Opportunity Program Director

Beginning Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, 2012, Department of Defense components worldwide are encouraged to recognize the many contributions of Hispanic Americans to the nation by supporting appropriate ceremonies and activities. The theme for this year's observance is "Paving the Way for Future Generations."

Established in 1989, Hispanic American Heritage Month was set aside to acknowledge and celebrate the diverse Hispanic cultures of American society. The term Hispanic refers to Spanish-speaking people of any race.

In the 2000 Census, more than 35 million people identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino. Additionally, Hispanic Heritage Month coincides with the national independence anniversaries of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Each of these five countries declared their independence from Spain in 1821. Within the 310th Space Wing, 16 percent of individuals identify themselves to be of Hispanic descent.

The Secretary of the Air Force, Michael B. Donley, recently shared that diversity is a military necessity. At its core, diversity provides our Total Force an aggregation of strengths, perspectives, and capabilities that transcends individual contributions.

In the end, diversity is about strengthening our force and ensuring our long-term viability to support our mission to fly, fight, and win...in air, space, and cyberspace.

Diversity can and should be viewed as a strength. However, it can also be a weakness, when we fail to understand that by nature we are all both ego- and socio-centric. As such, diversity can create division when we fail to appreciate how our diverse personalities and backgrounds influence the way we see and operate in the world. One of the most effective ways to build trust and strengthen our common bond as warfighters is to simply get to know one another beyond our military function. In other words, we are more than just what we do on the drill weekend. We all have a worldview, values, passions, and reams, which powerfully shape who we are and the way we choose to live our lives. Yet, the military is a very unique institution, adhering to a chain of command that governs every aspect of our culture and relationships. As we take time to truly get to know one another, we must never lose sight of the fine line between professional and unprofessional relationships.

One way that the Department of Defense recognizes and celebrates diversity is through Special Observances. In addition to Hispanic Heritage Month, each year the following national observances are celebrated:

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (1-31 October 2012)
Theme: A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?

National American Indian Heritage Month (1-30 November 2012)
Theme: Serving Our People, Serving Our Nations: Native Visions for Future Generations

Martin Luther King's Birthday (21 January 2013)
Theme: Remember!, Celebrate!, Act! A Day On, Not a Day Off!

African American/Black History Month (1-29 February 2013)
Theme: At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the
March on Washington

Women's History Month (1-31 March 2013)
Theme: Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Holocaust Remembrance Day (8 April 2013) & Days of Remembrance 7-14 April 2013
Theme: TBD

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (1-31 May 2013)
Theme: TBD

Women's Equality Day (26 August 2013)
Theme: Celebrating Women's Right to Vote