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Commentary | Nov. 29, 2007

Remember the diversity factor

By Steven Goldman 1st Fighter Wing Equal Opportunity Office

The holiday season is approaching rapidly. Many people are in the planning stages for festivities and fun times ahead. While planning events and spreading the word people should, keep in mind the diversity factor of the individuals within the organization.

Try to be proactive and sensitive to the needs of all. Instead of saying "Christmas party," how about using the inclusive term, "Holiday party?" Changing one word may put a lot of people at ease, not to mention increase the participation at the event. An individual who is not of Christian faith may not feel comfortable attending a Christmas party. Extending an invitation to a holiday party for squadron personnel would be culturally appropriate and appeal to the entire organization.

Some people may think it sounds petty; however, accommodating the religious beliefs of all personnel is the right thing to do. It builds cohesion, which is a good thing for any unit whether on base or deployed.

People observe many festive celebrations during December. In spite of the different celebrations, they all have common ties such as fellowship amongst family and friends, the sharing of gifts, food, fun and a sense of belonging. Holiday parties often bring about many brilliant decorative ideas. Unfortunately, most individuals only think of Christmas decorations. What about Hanukah, Kwanza, and Yule? 

Try to include a varied selection of decorations to enhance your party. These accommodations can go a long way. This article by no means includes all of the observances and festivities celebrated during this time of year; however, these observances can serve as a building block and stimulate an awareness for the holiday season -- an awareness that can guide us into the New Year.

As a final reminder during the holidays and throughout the year, commanders and supervisors should keep in mind the Department of Defense Directive, 1300.17, Accommodation of Religious Practices Within the Military Services. The directive states that a basic principle of our nation is free exercise of religion. The DOD places a high value on the rights of members of the Armed Forces to observe the tenets of their respective religions. It is DOD policy that requests for accommodation of religious practices should be approved by commanders when accommodation will not have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, standards or discipline. The following goal of worship services, holy days, and Sabbath observances should be considered and accommodated, except when precluded by military necessity.

For more information, call the 1st FW Equal Opportunity office at 764-5877 or the Langley Chapel at 764-7847.