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History
Minnesota National Guard
Diversity from within the ranks

1ABCT CAMP RIPLEY, Minn- Throughout the history of the United States, African Americans and women have played a pivotal role in the success of the military Since 1776, when President George Washington lifted a ban on their enlistment into the Continental Army to fight against the British, African Americans have fought bravely for their freedom and the freedom of their fellow countrymen

Women have developed an increasingly larger role as time has passed from serving as nurses in the revolutionary war to being able to serve in combat roles today Warrant Officer Mary Touch, an electronic warfare officer for 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division stated women have proven to be just as important as their male counterparts

"Cultural diversity isn't going out on Monday nights for tacos and Friday nights for Chinese food, or watching a movie with Denzel Washington in it," 1st Lt Michael Griffis, the logistics planner for the 1/34th ABCT said "Cultural diversity is learning by sitting and spending time with members outside of what your ethnic group is"

To highlight cultural diversity, the Minnesota National Guard recognizes February as Black History month and March as Women's History month African Americans and women alike have played a significant role in every war and conflict in US history from the American Revolution to Afghanistan and Iraq

Diversity helps the Minnesota National Guard as an organization better itself in the sense that each individual brings with them their own background allowing different perspectives to be seen From the top leadership and down, Touch says there are steps being taken in the right direction towards diversity by recruiting both women and people of different ethnic backgrounds

"National Guardsmen and women, active Army and Service members across the board share the kinship that the uniform brings with it and that's the tie that binds us," said Griffis

The Minnesota National Guard provides a sense of brotherhood, family and camaraderie for its' Soldiers and Airmen, which allows them to look past each other's differences

"I can make an opportunity for myself on a level playing ground; I can serve as a mentor for not only young Soldiers of color, but any Soldier in general," continued Griffis "At every point in your career, whether civilian or military, we should be a seeker of knowledge from our mentor and pass that knowledge on to a mentee of our own"

The Minnesota National Guard has created a mentorship program where Soldiers can establish these relationships with other Soldiers to further their development and growth, not only professionally but also personally

"We can all learn together as we serve together," said Griffis Minnesota National Guard Soldiers are able to further refine their skills, not only on their drill weekends but also on the civilian side This is a unique advantage that has allowed Griffis the freedom and flexibility to pursue his civilian education while serving his country

From one race and gender to the next, the Minnesota National Guard and the 1/34th ABCT will continue its efforts to maintain a diverse force within its ranks

February 17, 2015
by Spc William Boecker
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs



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