DEIA & The Mission: Retired Air Force Special Operator and Command Chief provides insight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brittany Kenney
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Council for Ellsworth hosted a mission brief on base Feb. 8, 2024, giving Airmen the opportunity to engage in a workshop about DEIA and how it relates to their day-to-day lives.

Speaking to these Airmen was retired U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Robert Zackery III, a seasoned veteran with 26 years of special operations and combat service. Zackery was invited to provide information on mission driven diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“There are a lot of young Airmen here who are not from this part of the country and feel very alone,” said Tech. Sgt. Rabin Kirkland, 28th Healthcare Operations Squadron flight chief and DEIA council member. “I think people should understand that diversity is an important part of being in the armed forces because we are all from different places, and we need to learn how to understand each other so we can work well together.”

During the briefing, Zackery broke down DEIA into individual parts and provided examples that would make it more relatable to service members.

“Our strength comes from our unique diversity as a service to the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps,” said Zackery. “We have different cultures and different values. But when our special operators come together, that diversity makes us more lethal.”

In a call to action, Zackery explained that diversity, equity, and inclusion require a strategic approach through change in three areas: the environment, the population, and the mission.

“Attending a workshop like this is a chore, you’re just gathering information,” said Zackery. “The work is in the field; it’s taking this information back to your jobs and making a change.”

With four briefing sessions scheduled throughout the day and time allotted for questions, Zackery and members of the DEIA council made sure those in attendance could gather as much information as possible.

“As a DEIA council, we hope these briefings will bring awareness to Airmen across the base,” said Kirkland. “DEIA is still a divisive topic amongst a lot of people, and if we want to function as a proper unit, inclusion and diversity is important.”