In this issue:
- Revisiting the 2019 Women's Workshop
- SEPM Spotlight
- The Fort Hood Report
- Vermont Cavalry Squadron Cleared Recruit Women
- Diversity in the Military: Then and Now
- Air Force Report on Racial Disparity
- P1TF Wins Diversity Award
- Revitalizing the DEOCS Process
- Cleveland Indians Set For a Change
- Wellness Campaign 2021
- The EO and EEO Complaint Processes
“I am Senior Airman Hall from the Vermont Air National Guard. I am originally from Puerto Rico and moved to Vermont 10 years ago to pursue a masters in Biology. For the past five years, I have worked as a biology lab coordinator at the University of Vermont. I decided to join the National Guard to explore alternative career options in Vermont. Currently, I am an Aviation Resources Manager in the Operations Group. One great part of my job is interacting with pilots and making sure they are ready to perform their mission. I am proud to be a Green Mountain Boy because I value our mission and commitment to serve our community."
SrA Yainna Hall is the Special Emphasis Program Manager for the Hispanic Employment Program.
Vermont Cavalry Squadron Cleared to Recruit Women
By Major Scott Detweiler, Acting Deputy PAO
The 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), is now authorized to recruit women directly into the unit.
This marks the first time in the National Guard's 384 year history that a combat arms battalion sized unit can enlist women.
"I am incredibly proud of the Soldiers and senior leaders of our squadron," said Maj. Gen Greg Knight, adjutant general, Vermont National Guard. "This represents a significant milestone in making the Vermont National Guard an organization that provides opportunity for all. Their focus and hard work made this a reality."
Since the Department of the Army opened combat roles to women in 2016, they could transfer but not enlist into combat units until specific conditions were met. Requirements included installing women into leadership roles throughout the Squadron, completing Gender Integration Training and demonstrating a healthy unit culture through an Organizational Climate Survey.
"This was an extremely difficult process designed to ensure a unit was authorized to recruit women only after it demonstrated it was ready to do so," said Col. Brey Hopkins, commander, 86th IBCT (MTN). "But despite the difficulty, we were committed to this. We are eager to integrate more women throughout the unit because it improves our readiness and capability."
Women could not serve in occupational specialties designated as combat roles prior to 2016.
The Vermont Army National Guard continues to make progress toward seeking authorization to open all combat units for the enlistment of women as soon as possible.
Diversity in the Military: Then and Now
by LTC Roger W. Drury
At the time of my enlistment in 1985, our nation continued to recover from Viet Nam. Soldiers were disrespected and spat on. President Reagan was still working to rebuild the military after the 1983 success in Grenada. One of the worst insults you could hurl was to imply someone was gay by calling them a derogatory name not fit for print by today's standards. “You eat like a girl” meant you picked at your food. It was a time when homosexuals were prohibited from military service. Even Israel prohibited women in combat roles. And you never talked about your feelings….ever. Such was the state of diversity.
Sitting at my computer decades later I decided to look up the word “diversity." My internet search found two definitions. The first highlighted variety. The second focused on people from a range of social and ethnic backgrounds or different genders and sexual orientations. While different search engines advertised "Inclusion Training" or touted the best practices to ensure equal opportunity, no definition indicated why any of this was important.
Unlike the definitions found through robotic search engines, diversity means different things to each of us. For some, it’s a cringe-worthy expletive. For others, it’s an ever-shifting, unobtainable goal. For me, it means the ability to gain strength.
Think of it this way. Biodiversity, ensures the health of an environment. Monoculture, like a singular plant type in a forest or corn growing on the same field for years, burns out the land. We’re taught to rotate crops, and even encouraged to add other trees in sugar bush. Likewise, structural monoculture (or group think) burns out an organization.
The Vermont National Guard increases our diversity by rotating positions, awarding promotions, mentoring, retiring, and hiring. Staff members, ranging from S1 thru J8, offer different perspectives toward mission accomplishment. Our recruitment efforts now include Airmen and Soldiers with different sexual orientations, ethnic backgrounds, and education levels. Unlike when I enlisted, women are now permitted in combat roles. So why the big fuss? Aren’t we diverse already? Compared to 1985…..absolutely. Moving to the future…..indeterminate.
As an organization that is constantly improving its tactics, techniques, and procedures, we should not ignore the need to also increase our diversity. Our After Action Reviews need to focus on the mission, but also the lessons learned. Moderators and mentors rarely dwell on “who did what” to lay blame. Instead, they focus on what went right, and what went wrong in order for the team to improve.
We need to identify the Guard’s diversity goals. Are we seeking demographic diversity? Experience? Education? Political? All of the above? Each shapes the future. But what’s our end-state? We could, for example, focus on recruiting an ethnically diverse force from Title 10. This would give us a statistically diverse and militarily experienced base. But this could potentially result in an active duty monoculture.
Diversity is strength. But this should not be interpreted as a need to deviate from our common goals, Army Values, or Code of Conduct. Our responsibility is to ensure the organization provides coaching, education, experience, and opportunity equally. For their part, Soldiers and Airmen must accept feedback, learn, grow, and take responsibility as future leaders.
Diversifying our organization remains essential to longevity. We only become stronger through the input and experiences of others from a variety of cultural, educational, and demographic backgrounds. Senior Leadership must unite lines of effort into the critical capabilities by capitalizing on our diversity. Doing so will help us accomplish whatever the assigned mission.
VTANG P1TF Wins Diversity Award
By COL Laura Caputo
This past fall, the Air National Guard recognized the Priority #1 Task Force (P1TF) for its diversity and inclusion efforts. Designed in October 2019, the P1TF coupled innovative recruiting strategies with existing resources. The goal was to increase the Vermont Air National Guard’s (VTANG) end strength to 1077 by October of 2021.
The Task Force began as a working group with 40 stakeholders from the Vermont Air and Army Guard, along with several civilian partners. During a day-long brainstorming session, the stakeholders, with various backgrounds, discussed and debated different ideas about how to recruit new members more effectively.
The final plan created strategies in three areas: 1) Traditional Recruiting & Retention (R&R) Efforts, 2) Community Outreach, and 3) Awareness.
Within the Traditional R&R Efforts, P1TF identified tasks to expand and improve the current training program for recruiters. The task force emphasized the need to educate Wing members on the R&R process in order to better utilize Wing assistance and support. P1TF also developed lead generation techniques to improve accessions.
Within the Community Outreach area, tasks were identified that will help increase engagement and outreach efforts with civilian partners in order to leverage opportunities not traditionally utilized in R&R channels. Additionally, P1TF tackled the idea of creating a “Student Loan Repayment Program” for newly accessed members.
The Awareness area was designed from scratch. Unlike ever before, P1TF created social media sites and graphic products that will increase awareness about the VTANG throughout Vermont and upstate New York.
The P1TF has been operating at full-steam. Soon it will compete at the Air Force Level. Regardless of the outcome, the recruitment model it created has been a success. To date VTANG, has an end-strength at a five year high. Without a doubt, P1TF owes its accomplishments to its diverse membership and their varying skill sets and talents.
Revitalizing the Defense Equal Opportunity Climate Survey Process
by Captain Todd Connolly
The Army recently published a new version of Command Policy 600-20, updating the Equal Opportunity Program. Prior to the update, units were required to initiate a DEOCS within 120 days after a new leader assumed command and then bi-annually thereafter. Vagueness in the guidance resulted in units taking the DEOCS whenever a change of command occurred. This created “survey-fatigue” as Soldiers were taking the survey several times a year.
The new guidance in AR 600-20 provides clarity. It ensures each Soldier will only have to complete a DEOCS no more than once a year. This change creates an opportunity for us in the VTNG to promote uniformity in how we conduct and share survey results.
Since the majority of command changes occur within 120 days of November 1st, here is how the new process will work.
1. Before the November drill, each 06 level command will initiate a DEOCS for all their subordinate commands, except for their “command group.” Those will run independently, but concurrently. The DEOCS will run through December drill.
2. All DEOCS will be initiated and closed by an Equal Opportunity Advisor (EOA).
3. Each Battalion and Company Commander, along with their Equal Opportunity Leader (EOL), under the guidance of their EOA, will process and present survey results to their units within 60 days after the DEOCS is closed.
4. Company and Battalion Command teams will then review the results and action plans with their Brigade Commander and EOA by the close of March drill.
5. With the guidance of the EOA, the command teams will share the DEOCS results with their units, and explain their plan for addressing any areas of concern.
6. Each 06 Commander will have the opportunity to review the survey results with the Land Component Commander as soon as the April drill.
7. No later than the July drill, commands will reevaluate their action plan progress with their EOL’s. Reassessment may include observation, data analysis, and sensing sessions.
8. The process will repeat in November of the next fiscal year.
The DEOCS is an important communication tool – a point underscored at the Women’s Workshop in 2019. Workshop participants emphasized that we were not using survey results effectively. The new DEOCS policy will give us an opportunity not only to improve how we communicate, but it will increase our awareness to equal opportunity issues. As an added bonus, having an established method for processing and acting upon DEOCS results should decrease survey fatigue.
Cleveland Indians set to make a change
by Robert Dornfried
The recent decision by Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians to officially part ways from its derogatory Indians nickname, building on their 2016 retirement of the demeaning “Chief Wahoo” mascot, has renewed public debate regarding name changes. Relics of our nations intolerant past displayed by Confederate war memorials and U.S. military base names, to Christopher Columbus statues and holidays, represent prejudicial thorns in the conscience of African-Americans and Native-Americans alike.
Although Cleveland fans and sports purists may feel disgruntled to see teams alter their mascot despite decades of tradition and nostalgia, before passing judgment one should pause to apply historical empathy while viewing the discussion from multiple perspectives. A name change represents not only an opportunity for a franchise to reconcile an insensitivity, but reinvigorate a fan base to restore a potential original name, as well as foster a more inclusive public image in creating a more relevant team name to a given city or geographic area. In Cleveland’s case, the original Spiders name appears to be the leading contender.
Ironically, the Cleveland Indians allegedly named their franchise the Indians in 1915 as a tribute to Louis Sockalexis, a standout outfielder of the 1890s Cleveland Spiders franchise, and first Native American professional baseball player. Although the Penobscot Nation and Maine state legislature have both been outspoken about changing the Indians name going back to 2000, it was only in 2020 that mounting public sentiment and shifting cultural attitudes convinced Cleveland to part ways with its name.
The city of Cleveland has been forced to confront America’s foggy past that is often personified in sports mascots, logos and traditions. Just as Major League Baseball broke the color barrier in 1947, or President Harry Truman integrated the Army in 1948, baseball, a bedrock American cultural pillar, once again has an opportunity to lead this campaign of civic duty to do what is right.
Greetings National Guard family! It's Nikki Sorrell from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office and Lauren Hanehan from Human Resources, wishing you a Happy New Year! If you are like us, the beginning of a new year is a time to make plans, set goals, and hope for a brighter year than the last (see ya 2020!). Sometimes, though, we need a little push in the right direction.
"That’s why we came up with Wellness Campaign 2021."
Wellness Campaign 2021 is our way to respond to the frustrations of last year, the upcoming VTNG deployments, and the ever-present life stress that pops up more often than we’d like. We also know Covid-19 isn’t going away just because we flipped the page on the calendar. And let’s face it: winter in New England, while beautiful, is long, dark, and cold. Wellness Campaign 2021 will help us move past those stressful work weeks or weekends filled with too many tasks on the to-do list. Our tips, tools, and life hacks will create a little bit of peace in what often feels like a chaotic day.
How are we going to build a sense of peace and lower our stress in 2021? Let’s kick off the new year with four simple steps: 1) move your bodies, 2) connect with others, 3) get to know your emotions, and 4) change your perceptions. These first few tips will be the foundation for much of what we talk about in the future. These are the big ones, ones you might already be familiar with.
Let’s take a minute and dig into each of them a bit more.
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