TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (NNS) -- Diversity is more than a goal. It is a reflection of who we are and an acknowledgement of how we got here. As the U.S. military continues to grow more diverse, a more diverse leadership leads to greater unit cohesion.
A September 2019 Pew Research Center article notes that since 1975, the percentage of officers who are women rose from five percent to 18 percent for all commissioned officers in the Department of Defense. The same article notes that the share of ethnic and racial minorities has risen steadily over past decades with 2017 figures showing that 57 percent of the U.S. armed forces were white; 16 percent were black; 16 percent were Hispanic; and four percent identified as Asian (six percent identified as other or unknown).
What is it about diversity in command leadership that leads to greater buy-in and commitment from the rank and file? At Naval Medical Readiness and Training Command Twentynine Palms, the complexion of the leadership triad (the commanding officer, the executive officer and the command master chief) took on a diverse cast over the past six months, reflecting an African-American female commanding officer, a Filipino-American executive officer and a Mexican-American command master chief. And whether its coincidence, effective command vision or identification from all ranks with a winning team -- all categories in the most recent Command Climate Survey climbed substantially.
“I’ve been at this command long enough to see this Triad come together,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Daniel Wagner. HM1 Wagner had recently considered leaving the Navy to pursue his goal of earning a medical degree but instead decided to reenlist after taking into account his strong bonds with the brothers and sisters who are his fellow corpsmen. “Morale is improving all the time,” HM1 Wagner continued. “Our Sailors feel empowered and it helps that they can find someone to talk to when they need to. I see the Triad empowering leaders and backing them in multiple situations. It's the diversity and professionalism that they bring to the table that has led to the successes in this command.”
Navy Medical Readiness and Training Command Twentynine Palms Command Master Chief Fernanda Casad was born in Sonora, Mexico. She said: “My father used to say, hang out with people who have something good to teach. That phrase resonated strongly when I came to the United States, but most importantly when I joined the Navy. I knew that to succeed as an individual and in my career I had to extract goodness from everyone that my father described. To me their ethnicity, gender, age, religion, or national origin did not matter; everyone was a teacher and we are stronger when we have someone point out blind spots because of their experiences/upbringing. I still view diversity the same way -- everyone is a teacher and we are never too old to learn something new.”
Navy Medical Readiness and Training Command Twentynine Palms Executive Officer, Capt. Romeo (Sonny) Tizon grew up in the Philippines. He entered the Navy as a seaman recruit in 1984 and earned the rank of Navy captain in September 2018. “As a first-generation immigrant coming from a working-class family in the Philippines, I can tell you that many of those I grew up wonder, how is it possible for someone from my humble beginnings to achieve the rank of U.S. Navy captain,” Capt. Tizon said. He continued, “I can tell you that education, training, dedication, hard work, and unrelenting perseverance make it all possible. The American dream is alive and well. This country that we all love grants opportunities that allow us to achieve our goals and aspirations. I am living proof! I ask the next generation of Sailors to harness the diversity you bring to our Navy. Despite our diverse backgrounds and origins, never give up on your dreams. If I can do it, so can you!”
Navy Medical Readiness and Training Command Twentynine Palms Commanding Officer, Capt. Lynelle Boamah, grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. Her family emphasized the importance of education which had a lasting effect. Competitive and success driven, at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth where she performed her pediatric residency, she was elected Chief of Pediatric Residents, graduating in 1998. Capt. Boamah was selected for full-time out-service fellowship training in Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital from 2004 to 2007, earning a Master’s degree in Medical Education and Curriculum Development (MEd, 2008) and graduating magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati.
“Diversity represents many attributes from the color of our skin to where and how we were raised,” Capt. Boamah said. “Our beliefs, and attitudes (cultural diversity) are the opposite of sameness. It is the concept that we are all individuals working collectively towards a common goal and purpose. In our Navy, diversity is represented by the different communities to which we belong - enlisted or officer, line or staff corps, nurse corps or Medical Corps officer. Diversity in gender, race, and ethnicity is essential within our Navy as we strive to represent our society. We have a very diverse country with many diverse cultures! Personally, I am more motivated to reach for higher goals when I see someone who looks like me in leadership positions. Our Navy needs diversity represented at the highest levels of leadership like we have in our leadership Triad here at NMRTC 29 Palms. It is that cultural diversity that I believe has made our triad as successful as it is. We embrace our differences and capitalize on them for the good of our Command.”
Navy Medical Readiness and Training Command Twentynine Palms/Naval Hospital Twentynine Palms is a tenant command aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, the largest Marine Corps Training base in the world, with a geographical footprint of 1,100 square miles. Live-fire exercises, artillery, armor and air-ground support aircraft are all part of what makes The Combat Center the premier training base in the U.S. Marine Corps training-base inventory.
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