Volunteer and help promote diversity

  • Published
  • By Col. Richard Klumpp, Jr.
  • 71st Flying Training Wing
Thursday's start of African American/Black History Month marked the first of several Department of Defense-mandated special observances Team Vance will be celebrating this year.

This month, we highlight African Americans; next month contributions of women will be highlighted and so on throughout the year. But regardless of the group we recognize, the observance helps you to better understand how we, as a country, got where we are today.

These special observances highlight how our military family embraces cultural diversity and education. It is also important to talk about what special observances are not as well as what they are. They are not attempts at elevating one cultural group above another. Special observances increase awareness and education in order to facilitate a culture of respect. They are about embracing our cultural differences.

Traditionally, we celebrate special observances in a variety of ways. Often we do so through luncheons that include a guest speaker. Other ways include displays at the base library, articles in the base paper and sometimes week-long events that may include health fairs, luncheons and other activities. No matter how we celebrate a special observance, it serves to increase education and awareness throughout the base community and Air Force family.

The successes of our observances result from the activities of a group of dedicated volunteers who take on the task of making the event happen. At Vance, that group is our Base Cultural Committee. It falls on them to plan, fund raise, coordinate activities with wing leadership and solicit guest speakers in order to execute successful special observance events.

Recently, we've had a lack of participation in the Cultural Committee. This contrasts with other volunteer opportunities that Team Vance member have embraced in a greater numbers. Special observance activities cannot occur without support. Bottom line - the committee needs more members.

The current lack of participation may come from not understanding what the committee is, or to be more exact, who can be member. But that's easy to answer - anyone can volunteer to be a member.

Don't be reluctant to join the committee because you don't share the same ethnicity or cultural background as a particular special observance. With our combined Cultural Committee, it doesn't matter what your race, color, religion, gender or cultural ethnicity is. In fact, a Cultural Committee made of a diverse group will do more to promote acceptance of diversity than separate committees for each ethnicity. What better way to support diversity acceptance and education than a diversified group committed to that agenda?

During this year of the Air Force's 60th Anniversary, we have a great opportunity to show how our diversity has contributed to our heritage. But those opportunities may be limited if we don't have the number of volunteers necessary to truly highlight those contributions. Please consider participation in our Cultural Committee as one of your volunteer possibilities and help promote the diversity that contributes to the success of Team Vance.

If you're interested in joining the Cultural Committee, call Tech Sgt. Derek Cox, cultural committee president, at 7921; Capt. Richard Milton, 71st Flying Training Wing Military Equal Opportunity chief, at 7940; or Master Sgt. Spencer Parker, 71st FTW MEO superintendent, at 6181.