The Air Force Office of Diversity and Inclusion was established Dec. 21, 2020, based on the recommendations of both the Office of Secretary of Defense and Air Force Inspector General independent review of racial disparity, ordered by the secretary of the Air Force and the Air and Space Forces service chiefs.
With ODI being established at the Air Force level, Air Combat Command is now making a cultural change beginning by appointing Dr. Rachel Castellon as ACC’s first ever diversity and inclusion officer.
“We take from our citizens, that’s who become our Airmen and we want an Air Force that is representative of our country,” Castellon said. “That means giving everyone an equal opportunity to progress and take their talents, skills and expertise and utilize them to the best of their ability for the betterment of the Air Force.”
According to Castellon, this intentional cultural cultivation is crucial to helping the Air Force, through its Airmen, to continue to outperform U.S. adversaries by increasing unity and productivity. She is poised to assist and develop the wing level councils at each of the ACC bases spread across the U.S.
In Castellon’s twenty years of service, she has learned that there is a lot to understand in every job and many opportunities to give back. She says her investment in the Air Force has only grown over time and she plans to utilize that experience in this Diversity and Inclusion position.
“I feel really indebted to the Air Force in a lot of ways because if it wasn’t for the Air Force, I wouldn’t have received my CCAF Degree, I wouldn’t have been selected for a commissioning program so I could finish my undergraduate degree, and I wouldn’t have done my master’s degree or my PHD for that matter. The Air Force has done a lot for me,” Castellon said.
With a desire to give back to the Air Force, Castellon is setting out to ensure that others receive the same kind of opportunities that she did without bias. A culture of inclusivity, established in a diverse Air Force that mimics the diversity of the U.S., and which she hopes will allow others to feel the same sense of desire to give back to the Air Force.
“We are looking at integration, making sure that diversity and inclusion is part of the culture…that it is sustained in the Air Force,” Castellon concluded. “That will be done by finding ways to incorporate it into our programs, processes, policies and educational training.”