☷Washington National Guard celebrates diversity of force
National Guard ( By Press Release office)
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CAMP MURRAY , Wash . – Diversity is a strength of the U . S . military , which brings together service members from different backgrounds and ethnicities and helps the force grow stronger . “Observing the different cultures in the military makes us more inclusive , ” said Capt . Tiffany Cadenhead , a personnel officer with the 420th Chemical Battalion in Yakima who comes from a mixed - race family with a father from Bangladesh . “There are things I learn from people daily about their backgrounds that I would never have known . Embracing everyone’s heritage is important as a melting pot of people in the military . ”The Washington National Guard enjoys a growing diverse force of service members with unique backgrounds and experiences . With nearly 1 million Asian Americans in Washington , Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month recognizes one of the largest groups in the state . First recognized in June 1977 by Reps . Frank Horton and Norman Y . Mineta , a resolution proclaimed the first 10 days of May as Asian - Pacific Heritage Week . A similar bill was proposed by the Senate a month later , and President Jimmy Carter signed the joint resolution for the celebration on Oct 5 , 1978 . In May 2009 , President Barack Obama signed Proclamation 8369 , recognizing the month of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month . During the month , communities celebrate the achievements and contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans with community festivals , government - sponsored activities and educational activities for students . The Washington National Guard has a long history of service in Asia , dating to the territorial militia being activated to serve during the Philippine Insurrection of 1899–1902 . The conflict ended with the signing of the Philippine Organic Act , creating the Philippine Assembly and the modern government known in the Philippines today . During World War II , Washington National Guard Soldiers fought the Japanese forces on Guadalcanal , the Northern Solomons and Luzon , freeing the island nations from Japanese occupation . After the fall of Saigon in 1975 , many refugees from Vietnam settled in Washington state with the help of former Secretary of State Ralph Munro and the Washington National Guard . As thousands fled Vietnam , there was conflict about what to do with the refugees looking to resettle . Gov . Dan Evans and California Gov . Jerry Brown didn’t agree about welcoming in refugees . Evans sent Munro to California to see how Washington could assist . Munro learned of the enormity of the issues at Camp Pendleton and offered to have groups of refugees resettle in the Evergreen State . Washington welcomed 500 refugees in temporary housing at Camp Murray before finding more permanent homes . Nearly 4 , 000 more refugees followed . Many moved into the communities , and those needing more time came to Camp Murray . Today , almost 70 , 000 Vietnamese Americans call Washington state home . “Those kids were the valedictorians of their high school , ” said Munro during a visit to Camp Murray in August . “They excelled; they worked hard . ”Capt . Laudy Choum , a signal officer with the 898th Brigade Engineer Battalion , experienced a similar situation . Born in Cambodia during the height of the Khmer Rouge genocide , Choum’s family escaped the country and came to America . “I wanted to give back and serve the greatest country in the world , ” said Choum . “It has protected , educated and given me and my family the opportunity to become successful . The Washington Army National Guard has provided me a platform to be a positive role model and mentor for my family and friends . ”Choum , a full - time employee at the Washington Army National Guard’s information management office , works daily with many Asian Americans , including Maj . Sameer Puri , who moved to America from India , and Sgt . 1st Class Lance Shimamoto , who brings his “Island style” to Washington . “Heritage appreciation is not something that I just decided to do one day , ” said Shimamoto . “It is something that I do every day . This observance allows others that are not around Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders an opportunity to share and understand our traditions , beliefs , and ways of life . ”Another way Washington National Guard members are learning about the traditions of Asian Americans is by taking part in overseas tours . For 20 years , Washington National Guard members have had the chance to visit the Kingdom of Thailand through the Department of Defense National Guard State Partnership Program . Visits to Thailand often include cultural exchanges , celebrations and the chance to learn about the country’s history . In 2017 , the Washington National Guard and Malaysia signed an agreement , becoming Washington’s second SPP partner . “I have always believed that our State Partnership Program is working right when you build lifelong relationships with our partners , ” said . Brig . Gen . Gent Welsh , the commander of the Washington Air National Guard . “We should have our young officers connecting with our Thai and Malaysia officers when they are just starting out , and they should grow up together , learn from one another and build those lasting friendships . ”
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