SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
As early as 1815 in the battle for New Orleans alongside General Andrew Jackson, Asian Americans have served in the United States armed forces.
Since then, the U.S. military has become a stronger and more capable force.
Airman 1st Class Jad Arcega, 50th Force Support Squadron customer service apprentice, said representing the Philippines in the United States military is something he is proud to do.
“To be able to stand out and represent my culture in this career field really means a lot to me,” he said.
Arcega said he has two uncles who are currently serving in the Air Force, and between the three of them, they are all proud to represent the Philippines.
Staff Sgt. Latoya Walker, 50th Space Wing Equal Opportunity specialist, said celebrating a month such as Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is important because it highlights the unique strengths each member of the military brings to the team.
“Recognizing diversity in the military is extremely important because we are a diverse military,” she said. “We have transformed into a military which is accepting of all cultures. We have to be cognizant of this at all times so we can make sure all our members are treated the same and can feel like this is their home.”
Walker also said it is important to be aware of other cultures especially during deployments to other countries and need to respect the traditions and cultures present in other nations.
Arcega recalls his upbringing fondly.
“Growing up in a Filipino household is everything and unlike anything,” Arcega said. “I really respect my upbringing. In a Filipino household, you’re always at home, even if you’re not family. It doesn’t matter, the (hospitality) is amazing. Growing up in an environment like this helped make me who I am.”
He said this hospitality has carried into his career, making him a more welcoming and accepting Airman.
Staff Sgt. Darren Woods, 50th SW EO specialist, said a diverse force is a strong force.
“With different individual characteristics and people coming from different social, economic and cultural backgrounds, we are able to diversify our force,” Woods said. “We have more to offer as a whole and we have more to bring to the table.”
Arcega said celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is important because it educates people on different cultures.
“There’s an entire culture and history of what Filipinos have been through, from being colonized by the Spanish to the modern struggles of poverty,” he said. “Knowing this background, the struggles my family has been through, it makes me extremely proud of who I am.”