Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2015

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The Coast Guard prides itself for its diverse workforce and that includes honoring the various minorities: African-Americans, Hispanics, women, and in May, the Coast Guard celebrates the many Asian-American Pacific Islanders past and present who have done so much for their country.

“Celebrating heritage months is extremely important because in a diverse workforce we need to celebrate and acknowledge the various people who make up the demographics,” said Chief Petty Officer Fabiola Germeille, Leadership Diversity Advisory Council chair. “This helps with cohesion, increases cultural awareness and is a wonderful way to not only acknowledge technical expertise, but allow our workforce to showcase their heritage.”

Germeille, a yeoman at Coast Guard Base Kodiak, leads the diversity council. This year, the council is scheduled to host an event in late May at the base’s Golden Anchor to include authentic Asian-American Pacific Islander food and hula dancers.

Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Ijima poses for a photo at the North Pacific Regional Fisheries Training Center in Kodiak, Alaska, May 5, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kelly Parker.

Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Ijima poses for a photo at the North Pacific Regional Fisheries Training Center in Kodiak, Alaska, May 5, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kelly Parker.

“Heritage months provide an important platform to help better understand a culture and dispel stereotypes,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Ijima, a North Pacific Regional Fisheries Training Center administrator and Hawaiian native. “The celebrations we have are great opportunities to discuss and share our heritage and learn about fellow shipmates’ heritages.”

The councils and committees like the Leadership and Diversity Advisory Council help promote observances like Asian-American Pacific Islanders Heritage Month.

“Personally, I think honoring these heritages help with recruiting and retention; as human beings, we all want a sense of inclusion and belonging,” said Germeille. “To me, seeing one’s heritage being honored can help and influence one’s decision in joining and staying with the organization.”

In March 2015, the diversity demographics listed the active duty Asian and Pacific Islanders at 2.02%. While the population of Asian-American and Pacific Islanders is tiny, the Coast Guard has a diversity policy in place to create and sustain a climate where people of diverse backgrounds are included, valued and respected.

“The policy, I believe, helps create a diverse workforce that should mirror our country and society,” said Germeille. “It helps bring various viewpoints and stimulates different ideas and ways of thinking. Everyone brings something new to the table and contributes to the mission.”

The Coast Guard has a long history of Asian-Pacific Islanders who have valiantly served our organization. Most of the first documented Asian-American Pacific Islanders were a part of the service’s predecessor agency – the U.S. Lighthouse Service. Visit the Coast Guard’s Asian-American and Pacific Islanders page to learn more.

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