News: Joint base community members should exercise holiday sensitivity
Story by Airman Sean Crowe
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. - The holiday season is here and many people are currently planning for festivities and fun times. While planning your events and spreading the word, keep in mind the diversity factor of the individuals within your organization. Remember, everyone does not celebrate Christmas and try to be proactive and sensitive to the needs of all.
Instead of saying "Christmas party," how about using the inclusive term, "holiday party?" Changing one word may put people at ease, not to mention increase participation at your event. Individuals who is not of Christian faith may not feel comfortable attending a "Christmas" party. Extending an invitation to a holiday party for squadron personnel would be culturally appropriate and appeal to your entire organization. You may say to yourself, "well, this sure sounds petty to me. A party is a party!" But accommodating the religious beliefs of all personnel is the right thing to do. It builds cohesion; a good thing for any unit whether in garrison or deployed.
Many festive celebrations are observed throughout the month of December. In spite of the different celebrations, they all have common ties such as fellowship amongst family and friends, the sharing of gifts, food, fun and a sense of belonging. Holiday parties often bring about many brilliant decorative ideas.
Unfortunately, most individuals only think of Christmas decorations. Well, how about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Yule? Try to include a varied selection of decorations to enhance your party. Little accommodations can go a long way. This article by no means includes all of the observances and festivities celebrated during this time of year. However, these observances can serve as a building block and stimulate an awareness for the holiday season - an awareness that can guide us into the new year.
As a final helpful reminder during the holidays and throughout the year, commanders and supervisors should keep in mind the Department of Defense Directive, 1300.17, Accommodation of Religious Practices Within the Military Services. The directive states a basic principle of our nation is free exercise of religion.
The DoD places a high value on the rights of members of the Armed Forces to observe the tenets of their respective religions. It is DoD policy that requests for accommodation of religious practices should be approved by commanders when accommodation will not have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, standards, or discipline. The following goal of worship services, holy days, and Sabbath observances should be considered and accommodated, except when precluded by military necessity.