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Native American Airman encourages inclusion through knowledge

By Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes | 70th ISR Wing Public Affairs | Nov. 1, 2017

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —

(Editor’s note: Last names were omitted for security reasons)  

The U.S. Air Force and numerous deserving causes has led Tech. Sgt. Frances, who has a passion for her heritage, to an opportunity to represent all of those when she attended the Society of American Indian Government Employees National Training Program in June 2017.

A member of the 543rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, Joint Base San Antonio, Francis has been passionate about many things in her Air Force career, to include mentoring, resiliency training, suicide prevention, volunteering and mentoring youth, and so on.

“One passion, in particular, is Native American heritage issues and youth,” she said. “So whenever I get the chance to partake in any Native American event, I am all in by volunteering and/or leading the activity.”

With over 16 years serving in the Air Force and her numerous volunteer commitments, Frances has served in multiple career fields. Her experience has been primarily supporting ISR aircrafts like the U2 Dragon Lady and the RQ-4 Global Hawk. She has worked in maintenance, force support, logistics readiness and intelligence, all of which have helped her gain a wide and diverse range of experience.

While stationed at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. in 2009, the Airman was introduced to the Society of American Indian Government Employees National Training Program when she was nominated by her leadership for an award.

Since winning that award, and after several years of being involved with the program, Frances was thankful to be given the opportunity to attend SAIGE National Training Program this summer where a multitude of exhibits and guest speakers helped expand participants’ knowledge. 

“Being Native American (Lakota and Arapaho) attracts me to these types of programs,” Francis said, adding that the exposure to so many Native American leaders through the group’s activities has inspired her to continue becoming a better leader herself, like those who inspired her to join the military.

“My father said it was best for me to join the Air Force and so I did,” said Frances. “Also, the history of Native Americans serving our country impacted my choice to join, and many Native Americans (who were) not U.S. citizens (at the time) died for our country fighting in wars.”

Francis likes the diversity the military offers and how it allows people to learn to understand of one another, similar to what she experienced through the SAIGE program.   

“It has opened my eyes to all of the Native Americans from many different government agencies that I honestly had no idea were out there,” she said. “Many of the Native Americans I have met at the NTP are diverse in their respective leadership positions that range from a world-renowned fashion designer presenting in Paris to an executive director on Native American Affairs in the White House.”

Francis is now a American Indian/Alaska Native NSA Employee Group member and said the group promotes and supports inclusion and diversity within the NSA enterprise and allows members to take part in events like SAIGE.