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NEWS | Aug. 4, 2020

Reserve HQ Sailors Discuss Diversity in Spirit of “One Team, One Navy”

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arthurgwain L. Marquez

SLIDESHOW | 1 images | 200804-N-CW570-001 Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command (CNRFC) hosted “One Team, One Navy” diversity dialogues with command civilian and military personnel in the Hampton Roads, Virginia region, July 29 and July 30.

NORFOLK – Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command (CNRFC) hosted “One Team, One Navy” diversity dialogues with command civilian and military personnel in the Hampton Roads region, July 29 and July 30.

The Norfolk, Virginia-based command held one small session at its command and an additional engagement over Navy video-conference channels, with additional efforts planned in the near future. The group discussions included topics such as systemic racism and culturally-based biases.

Sailors sharing their stories of personal experiences within and outside the Navy followed “ground rules” set by facilitators. Participants shared their experiences and revealed different points of view to the group, while engaging in open-minded dialogue.

CNRFC Commander Rear Adm. John Schommer addressed the participants before each session and said the aim is to build a reliable organization based on the Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment.

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty, truth and compassion against injustice,” said Schommer.

Trained facilitators guided group discussions. Individuals engaged with each other, person to person, to learn about the life experiences, share thoughts and feelings that shape the way Sailors interact.

By following COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, participants were at least six feet apart, forming a semi-circle around the auditorium for the in-person session.

Lt. Cmdr. Amy Thomas, CNRFC Inclusion & Diversity Officer, said the event succeeded in starting the conversation about race relations and inclusion within the Reserve force, in the spirit of a recent message from Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday encouraging all commands to start the conversation.

“Everybody has a story, and these dialogues are an opportunity to share stories about the people we work with every day. These dialogues prove this is a conversation everyone in the Navy can have,” Thomas said. “We have shared our model with the regional Reserve commands and hope it helps guide their own successful conversations.”

Thomas also sits on the “Task Force One Navy” team to address the issues of racism, sexism and other destructive biases and their impact on naval readiness.

“I feel very optimistic about the future, in part because we are beginning to have these kinds of conversations in an official format that integrates junior Sailors in the room with senior leaders,” she said.

Chief Personnel Specialist Rico Terrell, CNRFC Inclusion and Diversity facilitator, said these discussions are a great opportunity to build relationships and engage in uncomfortable, yet necessary dialogue.

“I was really moved,” said Terrell. “I thought there were powerful statements by the members here.”

Terrell said one of the great things about the setting was the range of diversity with the members, including differences in age, gender, rank, and ethnicity.

Yeoman 1st Class Cameron Phillips, another co-facilitator, echoed the sentiment. “We were actually able to get a deep-rooted survey of individuals, not just within this command, but within the Navy,” she said.