By Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever, 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 09, 2020
Airmen from the 31st Fighter Wing Equal Opportunity office pose for a photo at Aviano Air Base, Italy, June 12, 2019. Air Force EO strives to accomplish its mission by promoting an environment free from personal, social or institutional barriers that could prevent Air Force members from rising to their highest potential. (Photo by 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office)
The 31st Fighter Wing Equal Opportunity office among other trained facilitators and helping agencies hosted a series of group discussions for Wyvern Nations.
“The ‘Wyvern Nation is listening’ discussion groups started on June 8, following the civil unrest in America caused by the death of George Floyd as well as released articles concerning racism in the Air Force,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Shiantee E. Walton, 31st Fighter Wing Equal Opportunity noncommissioned officer in charge.
The intent of these group discussions was to provide an avenue for those who wanted to vent their frustrations, emotions, listen, ask questions, or simply understand others’ experiences, said Walton.
The discussions were open to everyone and a specific group discussion was also available for Airmen living in the dorms.
“We decided to host a group specifically for dorm Airmen because they are amongst the majority population of Wyvern Nation without any family” said Walton. “We wanted to give them an opportunity to have this same avenue amongst each other to hopefully build on unity, comradery and support.”
There has been a total of 10 sessions, not including the squadron specific sessions that the 31st FW EO office has been facilitating daily.
These discussions have been an outlet for sharing difficult and uncomfortable conversations without judgment or fear of reprisal, said Walton.
“The most successful aspects that has come out of the group discussions are the new perspectives,” said Walton. “Many Wyverns have walked away saying ‘Wow, I never looked at this from that point of view’ or ‘I had no clue you experienced this. I want to understand. What can I do?’ The new mindsets lets us know that we have hope for the future and we are going in the right direction.”
Walton said, Wyvern Nation should know that the 31st FW Equal Opportunity Office is there to help in any way they can, they are a “no judgement” agency.
“The Group discussions will not be stopping anytime soon,” said Walton. “We will continue to use the discussions to bring awareness, dialogue, compassion, education and support. We will continue to build unity and reconcile trust.”
The 31st Fighter Wing will host a “Unity in Diversity” Day on Friday, 17 July.