FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. --
(Editor’s note: Last names were omitted for security reasons)
Passion for her heritage, the U.S. Air Force and good causes recently led Tech. Sgt. Frances to an opportunity to represent all of those when she attended the Society of American Indian Government Employees National Training Program in June.
A member of the 543rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, Joint Base San Antonio, Francis said she 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.”
Serving just over 16 years in the Air Force, Francis, in addition to her numerous volunteer commitments, as served in multiple career fields. Her experience has been primarily supporting ISR aircraft, like the U2 Dragon Lady and the RQ-4 Global Hawk, where she has worked in maintenance, force support, logistics readiness and intelligence, all of which, she says, have helped her gain a wide and diverse range of experience.
While stationed at Beale Air Force Base, California 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,” Frances said. “Also, the history of Native Americans serving our country impacted my choice to join, and many Native Americans, not U.S. citizens (at the time) died for our country fighting in wars.”
Francis said she likes the diversity the military offers and how it allows people to learn to understand of one another, like what she has 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,” she said.
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.