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Air Education and Training Command leaders are diligently working to remove barriers, promote mutual respect, and encourage tough conversations in safe spaces.

The First Command is leading efforts to strengthen diversity through deliberate actions to raise awareness about opportunities; developing partnerships with underrepresented groups; removing barriers to serve and providing mentorship to our current force.

 Air Force Instruction (AFI) 36-7001, Diversity & Inclusion, broadly defines diversity as “a composite of individual characteristics, experiences, and abilities consistent with the Air Force Core Values and the Air Force Mission. Air Force diversity includes, but is not limited to: personal life experiences, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds, cultural knowledge, educational background, work experience, language abilities, physical abilities, philosophical and spiritual perspectives, age, race, ethnicity, and gender.” The Air Force increases its warfighting capabilities and lethality by attracting talent from a diverse body of applicants and leveraging their unique characteristics, experiences, and abilities.


Learn more about the U.S. Air Force Rated Diversity Improvement Strategy here. 

Learn more about the Department of the Air Force Barrier Analysis Working Groups (DAFBAWG) here. 


59th MDW DEIA Committee Marks One-Year Milestone in Inclusion Efforts

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kelsey Martinez

Since its inception in early 2023, the 59th Medical Wing’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Committee, led by Col. Aquilla Highsmith-Tyler, the 59th Medical Operations deputy group commander and physician by profession, has been dedicated to fostering a more inclusive and diverse environment within the military. 

Inspired by President Joe Biden’s Executive Order 14035 (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce) the committee aims to cultivate a workplace where every individual feels valued, respected, and included, while also breaking down barriers within the organization.

"We believe that by embracing diversity in all its forms, we can enhance our mission operations and ultimately improve patient care,” shared Highsmith-Tyler. "One of the key initiatives of the committee is its focus on education and awareness. By promoting understanding and empathy among colleagues, the committee aims to create a more inclusive culture where every individual, regardless of background, feels welcomed, heard, valued, and supported.”

The primary mission of DEIA is to enhance the readiness of the DoD workforce and ensure the nation’s security by leveraging the pillars of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, and optimizing the diverse talent in support of the Joint Warfighter.

“When interacting with individuals from diverse backgrounds...misunderstandings, biases, or assumptions can occur based on outward appearance,” she explained. “I’ve always prioritized advocating for mutual respect and understanding, recognizing our actions on others.” 

DoD's priority initiatives aim to ensure equitable career progression and retention, fostering inclusivity and diversity while enhancing transparency in promotion processes. 

"Diversity extends beyond demographics; it encompasses a range of identities and experiences," she said. “It shapes perceptions, beliefs, interactions, and even how the world views us, significantly impacting our professional and personal lives."

Highsmith-Tyler emphasized the importance of addressing equity alongside equality, with ongoing efforts to enhance equitable representation across all military and civilian workforce levels. This includes reviewing and addressing barriers in recruitment, accessions, and hiring processes, aiming to recruit and assess populations reflecting the comparative U.S. demographics and increasing representation of individuals with disabilities in both civilian and military sectors.

“Equality is more of a one-size-fits-all concept, whereas equity addresses individual differences and needs,” she explained. 

The DoD actively removes barriers and enhances opportunities for qualified individuals including those with disabilities, through evolving leadership frameworks, policy updates, investment in accessible infrastructure, and collaboration with the Department of Labor.

“A welcoming, heard, and valued workplace encourages individual contributions,” she emphasized, noting the resultant accessibility and sense of belonging. “A dedicated force willing to go the extra mile ensures patient care and team cohesion."

The DEIA Committee meets bi-weekly at 11:30 a.m. in the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center multipurpose room, welcoming all to join. Continued military community engagement is vital as they enter the second year and unique perspectives and experiences are valued contributions.

"We've seen successes in our first year, but there's still work to be done," Highsmith-Tyler acknowledged. "With ongoing support, we're confident in our progress towards promoting diversity and inclusion within the military."

Videos are currently unavailable, please check back later.
58 SOW Diversity and Inclusion
377th Air Base Wing
Video by Senior Airman Ireland Summers
Jan. 5, 2022 | 2:32
U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Curry, 58th Special Operations Wing commander, speaks about diversity and inclusion at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Jan. 5, 2022. More