F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --
F.E. Warren celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 in an effort to recognize Hispanic Airmen serving in the United States Air Force.
“It is important to recognize the contributions of the Americans who have ancestors from Spain or Latin America while celebrating their diverse culture,” said TSgt. Jessie Bustos, a representative of the 90th Missile Wing Equal Opportunity Office. “Hispanic Americans have fought for citizenship and equity while continuing to be devoted to their country and duties.”
Diversity has been recently emphasized to a greater degree among Airmen in efforts to promote cohesion in the Air Force.
“We are focusing on creating an inclusive environment of people from different social and ethnic backgrounds,” said Bustos. “Learning to work together as a team with different people is how we become a stronger and more lethal force.”
The Air Force Inspector General’s Office has found that minorities have more difficulty entering the Air Force and obtaining leadership roles and combat operations positions, according to Air Force Times.
“While looking at the newest disparity review and the six month assessment of the racial disparity review, it is clear that our Airmen from all ranks are continuing to deal with conscious and unconscious biases,” said Bustos. “Whether that be in officer or enlisted positions, we still seem to have a ways to go in order to come up with solutions.”
According to the report, Hispanic Airmen, in addition to Asian American and Native American Airmen, were not promoted to field-grade officer positions at the same rate as white Airmen. In addition to this, Hispanic, Latino, and Native American Airmen are 33% more likely than white Airmen to undergo Office of Special Investigations cases.
“We as an Equal Opportunity career field are doing our best to educate and train personnel on their biases so they can better understand themselves and their people,” said Bustos. “The more you know about yourself, the more you can change your thought process around diversity and inclusivity.”
According to Bustos, these issues cannot be linked to a single person or problem.
“We are changing the culture of our current and future Air Force to take these things seriously in order to help our Airmen be provided the same opportunities across the board.”
Making sure that Air Force personnel are aware of these issues and informed on why they may be happening is the next step to creating a better Air Force tomorrow. The EO office recommends Air Force personnel read the disparity reviews they release.
“We all need to be aware of the trends and analyses that the Air Force has identified,” said Bustos. “We need our commanders to get our youngest airmen discussing these topics. Even though they may not be easy to talk about, we need the communication to continue to occur.”
EO also suggests that repeated conversation may help to shape Air Force culture for the better.
“Talking about these topics once or twice isn’t going to help us solve anything,” said Bustos. “The more we discuss, the more ideas that can be presented in order to see changes. I encourage leaders of all ranks be comfortable with what may seem uncomfortable so we can solve this as a team.”