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Empowering female Airmen across AETC, Torch Athena takes flight

  • Published
  • By Aryn Lockhart
  • 19th Air Force Public Affairs

Torch Athena, a women’s initiative program, focused on educating, inspiring and empowering female Airmen across Air Education and Training Command made its debut during the Great Texas Air Show at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, April 22, 2022.

The goal of this new program is to empower female Airmen at the start of their careers, providing resources and opportunities available to them.

“Torch Athena was created to give the youngest female Airmen or young women thinking about entering the Air Force a platform for their voices to be heard,” Maj. Colby Shufeldt, AETC Torch Athena lead, said. “We don’t want these Airmen feeling like they have to wait 10, 12, 15-plus years into their careers in order to make a difference or feel valued.  If they have an idea to improve the Air Force for females, we want to help them voice that idea.”

According to the Air Force Personnel Center, the Air Force has the highest number of females serving in a military service. Women make up 21% of active duty members, 27% of the reserves, and 22% of the Air National guard. The contributions of women continue to benefit our military with a force that is reflective of our nation.

Torch Athena will have points of contact at each AETC wing and groups will share initiatives and host events to provide information and resources specifically for female Airmen.

From May 19-20, 2022, Torch Athena will be hosting a virtual event for the team, and plan to host a rally and fly-in symposium in the fall of 2022. The goal for the event is to build camaraderie and outline critical issues that Torch Athena participants would like to conquer.

“Torch Athena is comprised of individuals passionate about empowering women,” Schufeldt said. 

 “We received a lot of positive feedback and momentum following our launch event and we look forward to continuing that momentum to host an unforgettable inaugural Torch Athena Rally & Fly-In.”

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas-- Athena initiatives have been established across other major commands including Air Combat Command’s Sword Athena and Air Mobility Command’s Reach Athena. Sword Athena focuses on generating policy change that directly affects readiness and Reach Athena hosts a quarterly podcast highlighting female Airmen and family-centric stories. AETC’s Torch Athena will add to these Athena initiatives with a focus on empowerment through education.

 “These initiatives are vital to improving our Air Force and ensuring voices are heard,” Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, 19th Air Force commander, said. “I am excited to see the enthusiasm and dedication of this team. I have no doubt they will bring important initiatives to the forefront that will bring positive change to the entire force.”

Follow Torch Athena on Instagram @torchathena_aetc to see the latest events and information about the program.