JDEC Newsletter February 2021

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
As Women’s History Month approaches, its theme, “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced,” captures the spirit of change, hope, and progress made by women over the years. The theme also speaks to how women have stood strong in transforming our military into a more inclusive profession.

Revisiting the 2019 Women's Workshop

by Major Sarah Palhete

In November 2019, I attended the Women’s Workshop at St. Michael’s College curious and eager to inspire change. At that point, I had been in the military for 15 years. While I was able to find success, there were unique challenges. For me, it was childcare. Navigating through a dual military family, and having children of my own, I know first hand the stress of balancing shared childcare duties (especially as drill weekend approaches) with military responsibilities. Too often, the lack of practical childcare options has led to anxiety, frustration, arguments, as well as, the inevitable discussion about one of us getting out of the Guard or putting our career on hold. I have to admit I was skeptical. This wasn't the first time a workshop was held for women at the Vermont National Guard. Was this going to be different?

Walking into the auditorium, I was pleasantly surprised to see more than 200 women service members who, like me, were ready to create a Guard culture that could maximize our potential. I eagerly absorbed the stories of the keynote speakers, advocates of change, and leaders who shared their journey through the ranks of our changing organization. The highlight of the workshop was splitting off into small groups and brainstorming about changes we needed if we were going to create an organization where leaders at all levels could achieve their maximum potential.

My key takeaways from the workshop were:

  • To improve communication, we needed a strategic media presence that keeps everyone informed.
  • We needed to grow our junior leaders into the next generation of senior leaders.
  • Command climate surveys needed to be leveraged more effectively.
  • Childcare solutions needed our full attention.
  • Flexible drill schedules would help promote maximum participation while maintaining unit readiness.
  • Formal and informal mentorship opportunities must exist if we are going open doors and create transparency.
  • To achieve equitable and unbiased selections, we needed a blind promotion/selection board process.

It has been over a year since these recommendations were made. So where are we now? Too often we walk out of well-meaning workshops and our hard work is lost. The good news is that despite many hurdles, like turnover, and yes, COVID-19, advocates of the women’s workshop have been meeting behind the scenes to make progress.

Small steps lead to larger improvements. For instance, the release of the Vermont Army National Guard App, similar to the one developed by the Vermont Air National Guard, earmarks a change to build a strategic media presence. The app, along with TAG’s town halls on Facebook, are helping us stay connected. There has also been a series of councils developed to plan the way forward with respect to leader development and mentorship. And we finally have a Human Resources Equal Opportunity Advisor. Having someone in this position allows us to analyze command climate surveys, extract trends, and provide recommendations through the Chain of Command.

The issue closet to me - childcare - remains a tricky issue. I also appreciate that it is especially difficult for our traditional service members. While our Air Guard provides some support for childcare on weekends, it does not meet the demand. Support from the Army Guard is worse.

My response to the childcare dilemma is solutions based. We currently have motivated service members studying programs in other states, like the “Little Heroes” program in Delaware. Looking at best practices like these may help us design our own program. In the meantime, we have to understand the needs of our members. At the time of writing this article, a survey on childcare was being distributed to our members.

Of course, more work needs to be done. But our team of committed professionals are pressing forward. Maybe we are not as courageous as our suffragette sisters, but the spirit of change, hope, and progress remains the forefront of our minds too.

SEPM Spotlight

“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.

The Fort Hood Report

by Colonel Diane Roberts

The murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood was horrific. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and retaliation has no place in our military - a sentiment shared by the U.S. Secretary of the Army, who directed the Independent Review Committee to "conduct a comprehensive assessment of the Fort Hood command climate and culture, and its impact, if any, on the safety, welfare, and readiness of our Soldiers and units." After months of interviews, research, and discussions, the panel released its report.

The study made the following 9 findings:

  1. Command climate failed to instill Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program values.
  2. Sexual Harassment incidents were underreported.
  3. The Army SHARP program is structurally flawed.
  4. Fort Hood CID has serious inefficiencies.
  5. The mechanics of the Army’s adjudication process for sexual harassment and sexual assault cases degrade confidence in the SHARP program.
  6. Fort Hood Public Relations and Incident Management have deficiencies.
  7. No established procedures existed for first line supervisors for critical first 24 hours in soldier ‘failure to report’ situations.
  8. Criminal activity at Fort Hood is unaddressed because it's reactive not proactive.
  9. Command climate has tolerated Sexual Harassment/Sexual Assault.

What do all of these findings have in common? LEADERSHIP FAILURE! There are two fundamental elements of leadership: 1) the mission, objective, or task to be accomplished, and 2) the people who accomplish it. Here, the problem was the latter.

The leaders at Ford Hood failed the Soldiers whom they were entrusted to lead. The report concludes that "military readiness became paramount over all other responsibilities, without fully appreciating that the integrity and respect between and among Soldiers is a critical element of military readiness.’" The report recommended the military to raise the bar for its leadership – they MUST educate, develop, and grow engaged and responsive leaders who will foster a climate of dignity and respect.

To reinforce that point, U.S. Army Secretary McCarthy announced PEOPLE as his top priority. He said, “The Army is taking rapid, positive and meaningful steps towards reducing systemic and symbolic inequities while safeguarding every person in our formation.”

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.

Racial Disparity Found in Report Conducted by the Air Force.

by Duffy Jamieson, State Equal Employment Manager

On December 21, 2020, the Air Force released a 150-page report, finding racial disparity in discipline, development, and career opportunity. The report was ordered shortly after the killing of George Floyd and other Black civilians. Recognizing the military had its own issues of apparent inequality in its application of military justice, the former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. David Goldfein, stated “We will not shy away from this; as leaders and as Airmen, we will own our part, and confront it head on.”

The report reviewed military justice data, career development and opportunity data, along with instructions and publications from the Air Force.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.

The findings indicated that Black Airmen were:

  • 72% more likely to receive Uniform Code of Military Justice.
  • Twice as likely to be discharged based on misconduct.
  • More likely to be suspects in special investigations, apprehended by Security Forces, and the target of sexual harassment cases.
  • Overrepresented in specific career fields that may adversely impact their promotional chances.
  • Overrepresented in PME nominations, but not in designations to attend.
  • Underrepresented in promotions to E5-E7 and O4-O6.
  • Underrepresented in "Definitely Promote" allocations for O5-O6.
  • Underrepresented in civilian GS-13 through Senior Executive Service grades.

With respect to retention, the report found no consistent disparity based on race. There were more separations at 5-15 years of service, but less with 16-20 years of service.

The report made a point to state that while the review found racial disparity, that does not necessarily mean racial bias or racism is present. The review focused on the existence of disparity, not the cause.

A peak behind that curtain came from another part of the report. The panel collected individual perspectives from more than 123,000 members through surveys, written feedback, and listening sessions. Six statistics stood out:

  1. Two out of five Black service members did not trust their chain of command to address racism, bias, and unequal opportunities.
  2. One out of every three Black service members said they believe the military discipline system is biased against them.
  3. Three out of every five Black service members believe they do not and will not receive the same benefit of the doubt as their white peers if they get in trouble.
  4. One out of every three Black officers do not believe they are afforded the same opportunities to advance as their white peers.
  5. Two out of every five Black civilians have seen racial bias in the services’ promotion systems.
  6. Half of all respondents said they experienced or witnessed racial discrimination from another Airman.

These results reveal a troubling perspective. Perhaps, though, there are signs that the hard work behind this comprehensive study will lead to change. The Department of the Air Force Inspector General is due to conduct a “progress report” within six months followed by an annual review. Both of these assessments will be publicly released. "We're analyzing root causes and taking appropriate actions to address these challenges," Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the Air Force chief of staff, said in a statement accompanying the report. "Now we must all move forward with meaningful, lasting, and sustainable change."

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.

Nikki Sorrell & Lauren Hanehan

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.

Move, connect, reflect, and visualize

Move your body: A perk of working for the military is that we get an hour a day for PT allotted to us in the work day. USE IT! Or at least some of it. Thirty minutes of exercise can get your heart pumping, release endorphins, and make you feel great. Try to do something you enjoy – this will only increase those endorphins and make it easier for you to develop a routine. Walk, jog, run, weightlift, power yoga, row, circuit train, HIIT, CrossFit, Zumba, body pump. Shoot, you can even Sweat to the Oldies with Richards Simmons! Whatever it is, just move your body and if you can feign a smile through it, even better.

Connect with others: This might feel like a tough one due to Covid-19, but it’s not impossible. Those “feel good” endorphins we get from moving our bodies we also get from doing things that are enjoyable, like spending time with people who make us happy. It’s probably not new information, but as humans we need connection. We’re not meant to have a solitary existence. Now, that doesn’t mean alone time isn’t something that we should turn down. Being alone can be therapeutic, grounding, and important for our personal growth. But sharing conversation, laughs, and space (virtually and on the phone works during these Covid times) with someone who makes you feel good increases your sense of wellness.

Get to know how you feel: The act of recognizing your emotions is a daily practice that has brought peace of mind, even when feeling anger or frustration. So what does it mean to “Get to know how you feel”? It means actually taking a minute to pause and ask (out loud or in your head), how am I feeling right now? Often, by the time we’re conscious of the stress, anger, or sadness we’re feeling, we’re overwhelmed, acting out, or internalizing negativity. At that point, we struggle to find balance and a sense of wellbeing.

We can prevent drowning in these emotions by acknowledging and tracking it. By making the conscious choice to check in with yourself once, twice, or multiple times a day you will likely be able to catch yourself when you first feel the anger, the stress, or the sadness. Then, we use the information to decide how we’re going to keep ourselves from becoming overwhelmed by the feeling. By checking in we’re also able to enjoy those “good” feelings more. Next time you wake up feeling good, take note. It’s a great way to start your day. By recognizing those positive feelings early you can channel that energy to power yourself throughout the day.

Change your perception: For most of human existence, people have discussed perception as the thing that can make or break the way we see the world. “Is the glass half full or half empty?” “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Put those concepts to work in 2021. We promise things will begin to look different. Take a few minutes of your lunch break to think of three things you’re grateful for. Say them out loud or list them in your head. Give yourself a moment to really picture that thing, person, event, or feeling. Another great perception-changer when you’re feeling stressed, angry, or sad is to take five deep breaths and tell yourself it’s ok to have that feeling. Tell yourself you don’t have to act on that emotion, the emotion can simply just be. Then take five more deep breaths. By changing your perception of things, you will change your reality.

Great, simple tips like these can be easily lost in our organization. But we’re not going to give up. Look for us in quarterly emails, flyers, and monthly posts on the SARP social media pages. Follow us on Facebook @ Vtng Sharp Sapr and Instagram @ vtngsapr. We’d love for everyone to share the Wellness Campaign 2021 with their office mates and supervisors. Let us know what you think might work for your team, or even better, share it directly with them. There’s a reason why places like Google, and locally speaking, Dealer.Com encourage their workforce to participate in wellness activities throughout the work day. When employees are less stressed, their production goes up. When employees feel their happiness and health are valued they will, in turn, value the work and team members. Plus, the great thing about these tips and tools is they can be used at work and at home. Maximize the opportunity to shake off 2020. The Wellness Campaign 2021 will see you soon.

Our EO and EEO Processes

EO and EEO Processes
The EO Process
The EEO Process


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