MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
The 42nd Air Base Wing has recently hand-selected a team from around the Maxwell-Gunter community to champion the newly enacted Freedom to Serve Initiative.
The goal of the Freedom to Serve Initiative is to uncover issues that impede on Airmen’s ability to excel and form plans of action to help create equal opportunities for all Airmen across the installation.
“‘Freedom to Serve’ to me means, ‘do I, as an Airman, no matter who I am on this base, have barriers to success which someone else placed before me which prevent or inhibit me from rising to my best self?’” said Lt. Col. Andrew Milligan, 42nd Operational Support Squadron commander & Freedom to Serve Initiative team lead. “Those barriers exist in various places and are formed in different ways for people. This committee’s goal is to help Airmen be their best selves by identifying those barriers, create pathways to address those disparities, either through discourse, reflection, thinking about them, or by increasing awareness.”
The name “Freedom to Serve” was chosen based on the former U.S. President Harry S. Truman’s Freedom to Serve Report (1948). The report concluded that having a policy of equal treatment and opportunity within the U.S. armed forces would make for a better Army, Navy and Air Force, which in turn would strengthen the nation as a whole.
However, prior to the report the U.S. Air Force had already begun seeking an integrated force as a means to improve military efficiency and ultimately became the first service to complete integration. The Freedom to Serve Initiative aims to carry on the service’s efforts of inclusivity by continuing to break down the barriers that stand between Airmen and their opportunities for success.
“The significance of being on this team to me is that we will be able to help start those conversations within the Wing and the broader Maxwell-Gunter community,” said Maj. Jane Elzeftawy, 42nd Air Base Wing Deputy Staff Judge Advocate & Freedom to Serve Initiative champion. “The first step in eliminating barriers is identifying them and what populations they affect. We will help shine a spotlight on those issues, and generate pathways for leadership at all levels to eliminate them.”
The initiative is still in its early planning stages but the team has already begun brainstorming ideas on how it can best identify obstacles to inclusion that may exist around the installation; for example, generating focus groups for individuals to share their stories and establishing clear communication channels for Airmen to express concerns.
“I am both humbled and honored to help establish and serve on the Freedom to Serve initiative,” said Master Sgt. Terrance Turner, 42nd Air Base Wing Command Post superintendent & Freedom to Serve Initiative champion. “I have always wanted to make a positive impact on the community, the base and my work center. Every Airman has a story or some extenuating circumstance or barrier to service. I have friends who were that Airman. I was that Airman.”
Currently, one of the best ways to get in touch is by emailing their organizational mailbox at 42ABW.ABW.FreedomtoServe@us.af.mil