Diversity within the DoD Emphasized at the Federal Asian-Pacific American CounciChief of Navy Personnel Dive | Thursday July 31, 2008
NEW YORK (NNS) -- Naval officers and Sailors of Asian Pacific heritage joined service members from all branches in New York City, June 26, for the 8th annual "Department of Defense Day" at the Federal Asian-Pacific American Council (FAPAC).
"If Americans look in the mirror, they are going to see all the different cultures, and when they look at the Navy they should see exactly that," said Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
"Here we are in New York with Ellis Island the beginning of the story of the melting pot that is continuing, and we need to understand that and recognize and pursue that to tap the culture that has made this country great and continues to make the Navy great."
Greenert served as the keynote speaker for the FAPAC civilian awards dinner. He emphasized the importance of the Navy's engagement around the world in support of the Maritime Strategy. He also highlighted the traditional and non-traditional roles Asian-Pacific Americans serve in around the world.
He explained that the Navy is doing well with including Asian-Pacific American diversity within the ranks, but that there is still work to be done.
"We are lucky to have a generation of Americans, Asian Pacific and other cultures, who are willing to give so much," said Greenert.
"This millennial generation is willing to join an organization greater than themselves and volunteer and innovate. We need to continue to foster that and take advantage of that making the Navy and Department of Defense the employer of choice for a very diverse population."
Officers ranging in rank from midshipman to admiral participated in panels to discuss their experiences in the Navy.
"When you are in the military, you tend to forget about race," said retired Army Maj. Gen. James Mukoyama. "I ended up referring to people by their rank or rate. I recognized people by their job and position. Race was never an issue."
Lt. John L. Jones, a surface warfare officer assigned to the United States Naval Academy, described to an audience of Asian-Pacific teenagers and parents why he joined the Navy and what his experiences have been so far.
"When you come from nothing and are adopted into a family that loves and supports you, you want to give back. Not only did my family adopt me, but this nation adopted me," said Jones, born in South Korea and raised by his adopted family in Greensburg, Pa. "I wanted to give back to my country, a place where you can work hard and get far."
Outstanding service members of Asian-Pacific American heritage were recognized during an awards luncheon.
Personnel Specialist 1st Class Lorna Mae Devera, assigned to Chief of Naval Personnel, Diversity Directorate and Electronics Technician 3rd Class Ester S. Emoto, assigned to Naval Computers and Telecommunications Station Far East were the Navy recipients of the FAPAC Military Meritorious Service Award presented during the luncheon.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Lance Chu presented a salute to the fallen Asian-Pacific Islander heroes, mentioning specifically the 4,500 Americans of Asian-Pacific Islander descent who fought in World War II and the 30 Asian Pacific American Medal of Honor recipients.
The keynote speaker for the lunch was Undersecretary of Defense, Personnel and Readiness, The Honorable David S. C. Chu, offered an example of Asian-Pacific Americans serving the country.
He cited statistics about the island of Guam and stressed that one in every 100 citizens on Guam serve in the National Guard, the highest number in the country. In addition, he described the current success of cadets and midshipmen of Asian-Pacific heritage in varsity level athletics at the three academies. Currently 48 midshipmen or cadets of Asian-Pacific heritage participate in varsity level athletics at the three academies.
The Navy used this forum to announce the launch of the Naval Officer Mentorship Association, the Navy's Asian- Pacific American affinity group.
"This is my first opportunity to be involved with FAPAC, and as a senior Asian mentor for the submarine force our Navy's leadership -- starting with the CNO on down --encourages us to get out there and support the diversity networking and mentoring as well as recruitment," said Capt. Edward Takesuye, commodore, Submarine Squadron 3. "The more diverse the workforce the more individuals with unique contributions, and if you mix those all together we perform better as a team."
For more information about the Naval Officer Mentorship Association, visit www.navalofficermentorship.org.
For more news from Navy Office of Information, East, visit www.navy.mil/local/navinfoeast/.