By Marcus Hill | Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Since its inception Dec. 20, 2019, the U.S. Space Force continues to set the bar high for diversity and inclusion.
“We have a lot of strength in our diversity and we pull from a lot of different walks of life,” said Tech. Sgt. Latoya Walker, Schriever Air Force Base equal opportunity specialist and advisor. “When different demographics are able to come together as one, we build our strength within that diversity and inclusion frame.”
The Department of the Air Force, which supports both the Air Force and Space Force, stood up a diversity and inclusion task force in June. The task force addresses racial, ethnic and other demographic disparities and their impact on personnel, according to the U.S. Space Force website.
In June, Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, USSF Chief of Space Operations, addressed the importance of having an experienced force as well as a diverse and inclusive one.
“We have an opportunity to get this right from the beginning and we are committed to doing so,” Raymond wrote in June in a letter to service members. “We must build diversity and inclusion into our ‘cultural DNA’ — make it one of the bedrock strengths of our service.”
The Space Force showcased its talented members, notably on Oct. 1 when Chief Master Sgt. Taryn Stys, 4th Space Control Squadron superintendent, and Chief Master Sgt. Karmann-Monique Pogue, 4th Space Operations Squadron superintendent, each promoted to Chief Master Sergeant, the first women in the USSF to do so.
In July, the 2nd SOPS had an eight-member, all-female crew of space operators gain satellite control authority of GPS satellite vehicle number 76.
“I’m all about female empowerment, so it was so cool to be a part of that,” said Airman 1st Class Larissa Contreras, 2nd SOPS satellite systems operator. “I remember [our 2nd SOPS, all-female crew] going around and speaking about [that moment] and it was such a great thing to be involved with.”
For Contreras, who is Mexican-American, the moment held other historical value as it also showcased diversity.
While many of Contreras’ family members represent the various Armed Forces, she said she’s the first one to join the Space Force.
She said being Mexican-American in the Space Force offers the opportunity to become a beacon to other Mexican-Americans who consider joining the military.
Airman 1st Class Daryl Griffin, 4th SOPS space-ground link system operator, shared similar sentiments when he became one of the first African-American Airmen to transfer to the Space Force.
The move not only affords Griffin the chance to show his talents as a systems operator to leadership, it allows him to be an example and highlight a vast selection of career options within the military.
“I feel like this gives me purpose and I hope that it can be motivation for all kids who look like me,” he said. “Joining the Space Force is a moment that will live on forever and I hope it can help someone else write their story.”
Walker believes it’s important younger people and those who consider joining the military understand the inclusion Space Force provides. Space and system operators typically aren’t familiar career fields to minorities and Walker said she’s grateful that is changing.
“Anyone can [succeed in] what they strive to do. As long as they remain consistent,” Walker said.