By Mr. Russell Toof (Regional Health Command Europe)November 18, 2019
SEMBACH, Germany -- November is National Native American Heritage Month, honoring American Indians and Alaska Natives. During this month, the U.S. Army recognizes the contributions of Native American Soldiers who have served in the Army with great honor, dedication and distinction. For Sgt. 1st Class Jason World Turner, it means celebrating his heritage thousands of miles away from his tribe.
"I'm from the Crow Creek Sioux tribe," said World Turner, the Regional Health Command Europe Equal Opportunity Advisor. "Our origins started in Minnesota on my mom's side and my dad's side started in Nebraska."
For World Turner, Native American Heritage Month means a history of selfless service. "Native Americans joined and served in the U.S. before they were even recognized as citizens. This month means to continue on a long-line of tradition."
Historically, American Indians have the highest record of military service per capita when compared to other ethnic groups. World Turner is one of more than 9,000 Native Americans who are serving today. He has a history of military service in his family but is the first person to serve in the Army.
"I have uncles who served in the Marines," said World Turner. "I originally was going to join the Marines but when I spoke to a recruiter they said they didn't have any medic jobs available, which is what I wanted. The Army was able to make it happen."
While he came into the Army as a medic, he is currently serving as the command's EOA.
"My day-to-day job is to assist and advise the commanders at all of our clinic across Europe with managing and maintaining their equal opportunity programs."
As for his last name, there is a story behind that to.
"My last name actually came from an interpreter," he said. "They asked my ancestor what his name was and when it was translated out, the government official thought it was too long so it was shortened down to World Turner."
In celebrating Native American Heritage Month, the Army recognizes not only the significance of individual contributions, but also the value of diversity and an inclusive environment. To make sure future generations understand the importance of the month, World Turner recently spent time at Sembach Middle School speaking to students there.
"The presentation covered the basics," said World Turner. "It was quick and fun facts, interactive, something they could relate to so I could keep their attention."
Embracing and celebrating diversity makes the Army stronger, and the Army is dedicated to ensuring equality for all the Soldiers, civilians and Family members. To learn more, visit army.mil and search heritage.