WASHINGTON, June 12, 2017 —
The Defense Department recognizes all military and civilian men and women who serve and are part of the LBGT community as equal, contributing members of the total force, Anthony M. Kurta, performing the duties of the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said here today.
Kurta talked about the importance of diversity in the workforce as he led the ceremony for the 6th-annual LGBT Pride event in the Pentagon Auditorium.
Diversity’s Many Facets
“Diversity is more than race, gender and ethnicity. It includes, among other things, the diversity of thought, diversity of ability, diversity of background, diversity of language, of culture and skill. It is very broad,” Kurta told audience members.
And, whether in garrison or in the field, in the fleet or in the wing, at home or abroad, Kurta said, “we recognize all men and women of the United States armed forces, civilians and contractors, as equal, contributing members of the DoD total force.”
Reflecting on Service
As the department commemorates LGBT Pride Month, he said, “let us reflect on the service and sacrifice of all DoD members, past and present. We take pride in the contributions of all who defend and serve our country, and rely on the diversity of our members to meet our mission.”
Kurta added, “We thank you for not only what you have contributed in the past, for what you do each day, but also for what you will do in the future for the total force and this great nation.”
Diversity in U.S. History
Air Force Maj. Gen. Patricia A. Rose, mobilization assistant to the deputy chief of staff for logistics, engineering and force protection said naysayers will say diversity is just a form of political correctness.
“But to them I say, ‘Look to history,’” Rose said.
World War II provides bold insight into the power of inclusion as opposed to exclusion, Rose said.
“While our enemies were trying to prop up the superiority of their monolithic cultures, we were utilizing the vast and distinct skill sets our diverse nation had to offer,” she said.
Rose cited the example of "Rosie the Riveter", a symbol of civilian women who supported the industrial war effort. And, she cited groups in the military such as the Tuskegee Airmen, Navajo Code Talkers and auxiliary units of women, such as the Women’s Army Corps, or WACs; the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES; and the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs.
“[We] must truly believe that the principles of inclusion are essential to the well-being of our nation, and our people,” Rose said.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)