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    What it means to be diverse: The wing’s journey towards inclusion awareness

    What it means to be diverse: The wing’s journey towards inclusion awareness

    Photo By Senior Airman Janae Masoner | Senior Airman Julia Jurgensmeyer, Co-chair 139th Diversity Council, Senior Airman...... read more read more



    Story by Senior Airman Janae Masoner 

    139th Airlift Wing

    Diversity: often defined as the condition of having, or being composed of, different elements. Since January of 2022, the 139th Airlift Wing has been making forward facing movements towards ensuring a more diverse and inclusive wing.

    “The Diversity Council is, essentially, just a council that was started on our base with the intent of institutionalizing diversity and equality inclusion on our base,” said Senior Airman Julia Jurgensmeyer, co-chair of the Diversity Council, Missouri Air National Guard.

    The 139th Diversity Council began in January of 2022, but has only been having consistent meetings for the last six months.

    “We want to outreach to people and create a platform for all individuals on our base to feel welcome and heard, and not like they're screaming into the abyss of nobody listening to them,” said Jurgensmeyer.

    Currently, the 139th Diversity Council has three Airmen leading the charge; Co-chair Senior Airman Julia Jurgensmeyer, Co-chair Senior Airman Claudia Chou and Secretary Staff Sgt. Karina Brand. They attended a Diversity and Inclusion Workshop in Jefferson City hosted by Missouri National Guard leadership this past February.

    “I learned a lot about what diversity and inclusion is and how it’s kind of the core of bringing everyone together and being able to complete the mission within the Air Force,” said Chou.

    Chou, Jurgensmeyer and Brand all expressed their appreciation for how modernized the training they received from state leadership was.

    “It’s really cool that even from state that’s what they’re also pushing and giving us information on so we can educate on that, but it’s a pretty broad spectrum of stuff we’re looking at and tackling and we’re just now getting off the ground too,” said Jurgensmeyer.

    The workshop training focused on different generations and how culturally diverse each one is. Their goal was to explain the lack of connection between them and provide ways to close the gap.

    “There’s a big difference in culture between generations and that’s what we’re trying to connect here. Each generation whether they’re millennials, Gen Z, Gen Y or whatever, they all have a different sense of culture,” said Brand.

    After the training, it was apparent to Brand, Chou and Jurgensmeyer how they needed to help our wing’s members connect to one another.

    “One of the main issues on base that I’ve heard our senior leadership talk about is how communication is one of the biggest problems that Airmen are experiencing right now,” said Chou. “Like Sgt. Brand said, knowing the generational gaps between generations will really help.”

    The training not only opened their eyes to underlying issues, but provided them with a way to make a difference in the relationships between Airmen and supervisors.

    “I think that’s really important because knowing the basics of what diversity is, what inclusion is, what culture is, allows you to build that interpersonal relationship between the supervisor and the airman at our level,” said Chou. “As a supervisor you’re able to create that relationship, which will allow the Airman to feel welcomed, motivated and inspired, which then can reach the goal of completing the mission.”

    The 139th Diversity Council only has three positions, but does alot for a member of each unit to help be included on the leadership side.

    “If people want to step up as a representative of their unit it’s not like an official thing, but you can offer yourself, and your time, for the 10:30 meetings,” said Jurgensmeyer.

    In September of last year, the 139th Diversity Council hosted a food truck event on drill weekend. The food truck event featured more than five vendors serving lunch to members on base.

    “I just think it’s a great morale event for members on drill weekend, just something different. So we do look forward to that and getting that up and going,” said Brand.

    The event’s mission was to gain awareness about the 139th Diversity Council while providing something different for members to enjoy.

    “The vendors said that they loved coming on base, and all of them said they would be more than willing to come back again,” said Jurgensmeyer.

    While the event was a huge success for both members and vendors, it required a lot from the 139th Diversity Council to get off the ground.

    “It just takes a lot of background for us in the sense that we have to talk to safety and fire and security to get approval on base, but it's so worth it because it brings everyone together and you get to grab lunch with someone that you don’t see all the time,” said Jurgensmeyer.

    The 139th Diversity Council meets on Sundays of drill weekend at 10:30 a.m.

    “We just really want people to be involved…we’re still trying to implement at least having one person from each unit to come in,” said Chou.

    The 139th Diversity Council is actively looking for new members and any member who wants to be a part of more.

    “We just welcome anyone and everyone; all ranks, all ethnicities, all ages, all genders,” said Jurgensmeyer. “We’re just excited to keep having the conversations and connect those generations.”



    Date Taken: 04.02.2023
    Date Posted: 04.02.2023 11:02
    Story ID: 441774
    Location: ST. JOSEPH, MO, US

    Web Views: 137
    Downloads: 0