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By A1C Alexus Wilcox, Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
/ Published September 23, 2020
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - A panel of six senior enlisted leaders from Peterson-Schriever Garrison participate in the Crucial Conversations event on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Sept. 14, 2020. Crucial Conversations is an open forum that allows for audience members, made up of civilian and military members to freely express their opinions and experiences around the topics of social injustice, racial disparity, discipline disparity, and diversity and inclusion issues. (U.S. Space Force photo by A1C Alexus Wilcox)
The command chief of Peterson-Schriever Garrison brought a Crucial Conversations event to Peterson Air Force Base Summit Center Sept 14, 2020.
Chief Master Sgt. Boston Alexander, among five other panelists of diversity and inclusion experts and other senior enlisted leaders, participated in a discussion about social injustice, racial disparity, discipline disparity, and diversity and inclusion issues.
The structure of Crucial Conversations is an open forum that allows for audience members, made up of civilian and military members, to freely express their opinions and experiences around these topics.
“The goal is never to argue about who is right or wrong but to explore each other’s stories,” said Senior Master Sgt. Elisha Peters, Equal Opportunity Functional manager. “It’s about our Total Force members being able to tell their story their way.”
Crucial Conversations has previously been held at Schriever AFB as a part of an initiative called LEAD (Lead, Educate, Advocate and Develop) that was enacted in June by Alexander and Col. James Smith, PS-GAR commander.
“Command Chief Alexander is doing a great job bringing in garrison and delta personnel for a conversation about areas that we need to be talking about,” said Master Sgt. Cameron Wilkinson, 21st Operations Support Squadron directorate superintendent. “If diversity and inclusion in our forces is tantamount to morale, welfare, good order and discipline we must talk about it.”
During the conversation the audience and panelist members were engage with a shared goal of listening and understanding that allowed for honest communication.
“The civilians and military members who participated during the event appeared open and empathetic,” said Peters. “I was highly encouraged by the authenticity of their perspective, motivation and eagerness to help be a part of the solution.”
Working with EO, Peters is no stranger to these difficult conversations. Her input during the event helped give context and clear explanations to otherwise difficult concepts to understand.
“It is important to have crucial conversations because the void caused by the failure to communicate is often contaminated with fallacy, misrepresentation and a lack of understanding,” said Peters.
An audience led conversation enabled a broader perspective of how connected they are through work and life and how important it is to be considerate of fellow teammates.
“Members of our Air and Space Forces sitting right beside us at our cubicles, on the ops floor, in the patrol or emergency vehicle and in the work centers are our ‘teammates’,” Wilkinson said.
There are plans to continue Crucial Conversations at Peterson AFB as a continued effort to further a culture of diversity and inclusion and an atmosphere of trust and togetherness as well as dignity and respect, regardless of rank.
“We have an opportunity through our actions to provide hope,” Alexander said. “We have teammates who are hurting, teammates who are confused [and] unsure about things. When we come together as a family, when we show we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, that we can listen to each other and learn something, it builds hope. I believe we have way more good than bad in this world - and I believe together there is no force that can stop us.”