Vicenza, Italy – The U.S. Army Garrison Italy leadership with the Commander’s Ready and Resilient Council Strength in Diversity Working Group hosted the first “A Conversation on Race” as part of the U.S. Army’s new initiative Project Inclusion Friday, Sept. 18.
In the opening remarks, Maj. Gen. Andrew Rohling, commanding general of the U.S. Army Africa, stated “Project Inclusion is aimed at enacting Army-wide initiatives that promote diversity, equity and inclusion. As America’s most respected institution, we must lead on these issues. We must work to end bias and prejudice in all its forms, and ensure equal opportunity, dignity, and respect for all.”
Following the opening remarks, six USAG Italy subject matter experts facilitated a panel discussion based on the introductory short video “A Conversation on Race,” a docuseries by the New York Times, opening the floor for candid conversation between attendees.
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Barea, USAG Italy Equal Opportunity Advisor and one of the panel members said, “My hope is that this particular initiative will serve as the catalyst for others to join in the conversations, and perhaps more importantly, actively participate in listening to others and empathizing with members of our community who are experiencing and have been experiencing hardship in our country for quite some time.”
In attendance were over 60 participants, abiding to current COVID-19 safety protocols, who were eager to express their emotions, perspectives, and personal experiences after viewing the video. Attendees with variety of backgrounds were heard; everyone listened to each other in a respectful way which encouraged a cohesive learning environment. Everyone wanted to listen and learn.
“Today’s focus is to foster open dialogue about race, diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Col. Dan Vogel, commander of the USAG Italy.
The Strength in Diversity Working Group focuses on actions to promote diversity and inclusion within the Vicenza and Darby military communities with the objective of becoming an all-inclusive community where people can have respectful conversations on sensitive topics and become examples to the force.
During the fiscal year 2021, USAG Italy’s strategic objectives were outlined by four focus areas. The first focus area was to establish the Strength in Diversity Working Group, the second focus area is to establish a mentorship program, the third focus area is to emphasize and broaden our commemorative observances, and the fourth and final focus area is to host an organizational expo to highlight diverse opportunities within our installation.
“Through these strategic objectives, we will be able to create a more cohesive community and foster a culture that is built on trust, and accepts the experiences, cultures, characteristics and backgrounds of each Soldier and Civilian, which begins by listening to Army Soldiers, Civilians, and Families,” said Vogel.
Over the past several years, the Army has enacted a range of initiatives, to include training to elevate unconscious bias awareness and mitigate its impacts through Project Inclusion.
"Every Soldier on our team deserves the opportunity to excel as far as his or her character, talents, and determination to success will take them," continued Vogel.
Conversations continued outside the venue once it was over, with snacks provided by the Vicenza USO.
Stay tuned for more USAG Italy CR2C events throughout the year.