Appreciating cultural differences strengthens respect, mission accomplishment

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Garcia
  • 71st Operations Group superintendent

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Diversity is more than just various races and ethnicities.

It is appreciating the uniqueness of each other. It is recognizing our inherent differences. It is an opportunity to understand other perspectives and opinions. 

Each year, the United States government recognizes November as National American Indian Heritage Month. This observance month recognizes American Indians for their respect for natural resources and the Earth, for serving with valor in our nation’s conflicts, and for their many distinct and important contributions to the United States. 

Observance months aren’t just an opportunity to celebrate historical events and people, share traditional foods, and educate our youth. They are opportunities to increase awareness and reinforce mutual respect for each other’s differences.

According to the Department of Defense, nearly 31,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives serve on active duty today.

American Indians are a proud culture, rich in history and tradition, serving their families, tribes, and country with pride and honor. What I appreciate the most about my culture is its fundamental focus on family. That pride and focus has made leading and mentoring Airmen so important to me.

I come from a proud and strong tribe, the Pueblo of Acoma. What is unique about our tribe is it still upholds its traditional values and cultural traditions.

In the Air Force, when we value each other’s background, values and traditions, we foster an environment of cultural respect and equality. Leveraging our diversity not only contributes to mission success, it actually betters us as individuals and teams.