DACOWITS visits Moody

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Whitney Gillespie

The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services visited Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, April 27-28, 2023.

DACOWITS has been around since 1951 and is composed of women and men appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Defense to provide advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the recruitment, retention, employment, integration, well-being, and treatment of women in the Armed Forces of the United States.

This visit served as a platform for service members to communicate challenges and barriers they face in the military while also giving light to new ideas.

“In 2023, we need to get as much of the talent as possible from the American public to volunteer to serve our nation,” said Dr. Samantha Weeks, DACOWITS committee member and retired Air Force Col. “Understanding the integration and impacts of women on the service is needed to really garner, retain and recruit that talent.”

DACOWITS gathers information from multiple sources, to include briefings and written responses from Defense Department, service-level military representatives, and subject matter experts. In addition, the committee collects qualitative data from focus groups and interactions with service members during installation visits.

“Being in this focus group today let me know that there are other female officers in the same space that go through and experience the same things I do,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Heidi Schellin, 74th Fighter Squadron intelligence officer in charge. “I feel more confident knowing If I had a problem, I can reach out to one of the women I was with today.”

As one of the oldest Defense Department advisory committees, DACOWITS’ recommendations have historically been instrumental in effecting changes to laws and policies pertaining to military women. Since 1951, the committee has submitted over 1,000 recommendations to the Secretary of Defense for consideration. As of 2022, approximately 97% have been either fully or partially adopted by the Department.

“We can’t be a lethal, ready force if we ignore institutional barriers preventing our teammates from being the best version of themselves,” said Col. Russ Cook, 23rd Wing commander. “We’re better than that, and we owe each other the time, brain power and courage to recognize when cultures, equipment or mindsets have to change.”

After the visit, DACOWITS will take the information they gathered from their focus groups to take back to the Secretary of Defense, in hopes to enact change.
“The compilation of the Airmen that comprise Moody AFB from the different wings that are housed here provide us a good representation and understanding of the issues that the Secretary of Defense has brought to the DACOWITS committee this year.” Weeks said when asked why Moody was chosen.

Ken Barrett, DACOWITS committee member and retired U.S. Navy Capt. agreed.

“When looking at Moody’s mission it certainly is a critical one,” Barrett said. “We certainly have opportunities here to talk to a segment of the Air Force that we may not get at other Air Force installations.”

Ending gender-biased rules can remove certain barriers to any Airman’s success; particularly for women, whose roles in society have dramatically changed since the Air Force was founded in 1947.

“What I personally would want, what I think the purpose of this committee is, is to truly have an inclusive environment for every single person to come to work fully whole,” Weeks said. “That means for women specifically to understand how we are different from the male population, whether that means our size, stature, scope, physical fitness, or anthropometric gear, and if we don’t have all that, then we are probably not coming to work fully whole.”

Women make up roughly 20% of the Air Force, 19% of the Navy, 15% of the Army and 9% of the Marine Corps. Thousands of women contribute every day to defending the nation, and are crucial to the success of the United States military; therefore their differences and needs must be considered.

“It’s about the mission,” Barrett said. “We want to be able to do everything in our power to enable everybody to be the best they can be in whatever role they have, remove any barriers that are out there and give opportunities for people who want to be able to do that effectively.”

DACOWITS was also able to tour several facilities around the installation that support Moody’s women in the service.

“Like we said, 97% of those recommendations were added to support the people who serve,” Weeks said. “Because this committee is here to make Airmen, guardians, soldiers, sailors, and marines lives better.”

DACOWITS will go on to visit not only Air Force installations but Army, Navy and Marine Corps as well, while conducting focus groups and getting to the root of issues that women in the services face.

“To win the future fight, we have to empower each and every one of our Airmen,” said Cook. “And they need to know the Defense Department is serious about the strength of our gender diversity. The 23rd’s mission of Attack, Rescue, Prevail relies on a spectrum of career fields and men and women working together to be that leading lethal edge that combatant commanders across the globe depend on.”