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Empowered Airmen embrace diversity

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Douglas Lorance
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public

The 31st Fighter Wing designated today as its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEI&A) Day here at Aviano Air Base, June 3, 2022.

DEI&A Day allowed Airmen to discuss how diversity strengthens the Air Force and participate in team building activities.  Airmen and their families were also able to take part in cultural information booths, interactive conversations, and presentations from various cultural committees.

“DEI&A Day is a chance for our Airmen to discuss complicated topics,” said Capt. Danny Shields, 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron section commander. “The topics discussed today allowed our Airmen to be vulnerable, and most importantly, come to understand each other on a deeper level.”

This year, Airmen focused on the pillars of inclusivity and accessibility during their peer-led discussions, with the dialogue and activities tailored to encourage conversation about these two subjects. They also showcased the challenges and achievements of many cultures and their impact on the evolution of our nation.

“From basic training, Airmen are charged with internalizing and memorizing the Airman’s Creed. One line in particular, ‘I will never leave an Airman behind,’ captures the intent of today’s events,” said Shields.  “Because sometimes Airmen do feel disconnected or undervalued, and that has a large impact on an individual and fractures trust and erodes respect and readiness.  Today was an opportunity to bring us all back together.”

The members of the wing split into two for the day, with half focusing on small groups in the morning, while the other half spent time with the wing’s guest speaker.  In the afternoon, the two groups switched.

The 31st FW’s brought in guest speaker Ms. Denise Jeffrey-Elbert, U.S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility manager, to speak to Airmen about DEI&A concepts such as unconscious bias and how to address it.

“We may all be Airmen, but we are human beings,” said Shields. “Every person’s path in the Air Force is unique. My hope is that everyone leaves this day with a better sense of community and more understanding of their peers, no matter what path they take going forward.”