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DoD Sponsoring Its First Asian Pacific American Forum

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 5, 1999 – DoD is sponsoring its first forum on Asian Pacific American affairs May 17 in Arlington, Va., as one of the highlights of the 20th annual observance of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Bill Leftwich, deputy assistant secretary of defense for equal opportunity, said the forum will cover matters of interest to both military members and civilian employees.

"We encourage commanders around the world to sponsor programs, exhibits and other appropriate activities to highlight the contributions of Asian Pacific Americans to the defense of the nation," he added. The theme of this year's observance is "Celebrating Our Legacy."

The DoD forum will coincide with events sponsored by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council. The council agenda includes a networking reception at the State Department in honor of Asian Pacific American veterans of World War II. DoD will also participate in a congressional seminar on Capitol Hill and a national leadership training conference.

All the events are opportunities for DoD personnel to learn how to accommodate cultural diversity, a subject directly pertinent to DoD training objectives, said Frank Rush, acting assistant secretary of defense for force management policy.

The month recognizes individuals hailing from the Pacific Islands and nearly 30 countries including Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, Leftwich noted.

As of February 1999, active duty rolls listed 46,995 Asian Pacific Americans --5,949 commissioned and warrant officers and 41,046 enlisted personnel, or 2.7 percent of all officers and 3.6 percent of enlisteds. The 42,765 Asian Pacific Americans on DoD civilian rolls represented 6.2 percent of that work force, said Zee Ferris of DoD's Manpower Data Center in Arlington, Va.

The annual observance started May 4, 1979, as Asian Pacific Heritage Week. May was chosen because of milestones in Asian Pacific American history -- the first known Japanese immigrants arrived May 7, 1843, and Chinese workers' contributions in building the transcontinental railroad culminated with the driving of the "Golden Spike" May 10, 1869. The observance became a month-long one in May 1991.

More information on the forum is available by contacting Judith Gilliom, DoD's Asian Pacific American Heritage Month program manager, at (703) 697-8661.

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National Park Service Golden Spike National Historic Site

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