JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
Sword Athena volunteers from across Air Combat Command presented proposed solutions on Female and Family centric readiness barriers to Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of ACC (COMACC) at the conclusion of the fourth annual Sword Athena workshop here 22 May 2023.
This year culminated in the stand-up of four Mission area working groups (MAWGs) each with 1 or two lines of effort. Each MAWG gained COMACC’s support in bringing their solutions to fruition.
One presenter, Major Solange Douglass of the Workplace and Training MAWG, said “We have all been working soo hard and practicing for these presentations and seeing the possibility of that becoming and action and how that will affect many people is probably the coolest feelings I’ve ever had.”
MAWG’s were mentored by SA alumni and ACC directorate staff through an open discussion and feedback sessions, as well as various practice sessions which honed their messaging to best articulate their problem set.
The four MAWGs presented on following LOEs:
- Workplace and Training
o Lactation rooms
- Psychological Safety/ Mental health
o Re-deployment model BBP
- Specialized Medical care for Women
o Post-Partum depression and anxiety screening for spouses
o Pre/ post-natal fitness
- Female fitment
o Agile Combat Employment female fitment needs
I.e., Body armor, Chemical/ Biological/ Radiological/ Nuclear/ Explosive materials, Carry All Equipment, Bladder relief systems and female hygiene considerations in austere locations
COMACC shared thoughts and feedback and showed support for each MAWG.
He even said of the pre/post-natal fitness LOE, “This ask is a nothing sandwich, lets authorize and expand it to more bases than what you’re proposing.”
For those in the MAWG’s this year marked their first-time experiencing SA.
Another presenter, Senior Master Sgt Tiffany Hallmark of the Specialized Medical care for Women MAWG said of the experience, “I think when we get into an arena where we see or hear that other people have similar problems or stories to yourself, you realize that you’re not the only one and you [feel the] need to tell that story so that it can help make change for other people.
As part of each presentation the presenters shared personal details about why every LOE mattered to them. They shared their stories and the stories of those who’s strife in the military had moved them to want to help create change.
"Especially as women, and with being such a low percentage of the force, we don’t tend to think we can [affect change]," said Hallmark. "We don’t think that the military is inherently for us and truth be told it wasn’t [originally] built for us, but over the course of the 16 years that I’ve been in the military I’ve seen a lot of change happen and even seeing the small changes around me has inspired me to realize that I [too] can make change.
“I think just the knowledge that there are other people trying to make change inspires a domino effect.”
All of the MAWG leaders were impactful in their heartfelt and well-organized presentation and their time and energy spent resulted in successfully garnering support for changes to soon to come to ACC.
“Today we heard from outstanding Airmen who presented solutions to overcome readiness barriers for female Airmen and all our families,” said Chief Master Sgt. Diana Scaramouche ACC Sword Athena 2023 co-lead. “Their efforts highlight the incredibly talented teams and individuals willing to do what it takes to not only win in the near peer fight, but also resolve issues that may otherwise hamper mission success across all Air Force Force Generation phases.”