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ACC Sword Athena tackles readiness barriers

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jaylen Molden
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs

Volunteers from across Air Combat Command came together to identify, tackle, and propose solutions to female- and family-centric barriers to readiness during the third annual Sword Athena topic development workshop here Mar. 28 - Apr. 1.

Members participated in mission area working groups to develop resolutions for their lines of effort prior to an “Athena Arena” panel, where Sword Athena alumni and ACC directorate staff provided feedback on their action plans. This year’s theme was “Building Leaders Armed for Action.”

These working groups will continue to develop their resolutions over the next few weeks, and will present them to Gen. Mark Kelly, the commander of ACC, to garner the support needed to make their resolutions a reality.

“This was an event designed to identify and resolve problems,” said Capt. Liz Tiwari, ACC Sword Athena 2022 co-lead. “We’re disrupting bureaucracy by presenting solutions to female- and family-centric barriers to readiness within the command.”

The six working groups focused on the following LOEs:

- Military Life focused on permissive temporary duty travel for pre and post deployment.
- Pregnancy focused on privacy of pregnant members.
- Mental Health focused on mental health resources, and commander and Airmen education.
- Parenting focused on trusted communication between caretakers and parents.
- Quality of Life focused on school age education.
- Female Fitment focused on uniforms and equipment for women and Airmen of all sizes.

“When asking Airmen what factors made them want to stay in or get out of the Air Force, a common thread in their source of stressors was their otherness. Their otherness as a woman, their otherness as a mother, or their otherness as a person married to someone outside the military,” said Capt. Latetia Bland, 633rd Air Base Wing Sword Athena representative. “They needed someone to pay attention to these concerns and sounding the alarm alone was scary for them to do. Being here with all of these professionals, we’re realizing that sounding the alarm may not be as hard, especially when you have people who are not only okay with your otherness, but stand ready to remove roadblocks.”

Since the inception of Sword Athena in 2020, teams have successfully collaborated with multiple agencies to help develop new female hair regulations, increase the availability of maternity uniform sizes, remove barriers for nursing mothers, and more.

VIDEO | 00:32 | 49 Members of ACC Sword Athena 2022