SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – Airmen from Scott Air Force Base have created a way for people of all ranks to come together virtually to provide a place to have difficult conversations, and as a way to support the Air Force’s initiative to promote diversity and inclusion in the workforce.
Inspired by the dayrooms at Basic Military Training, “Dayroom Chats” are open forums where people can discuss various sensitive topics in an environment that encourages “honest and respectful reflection in the hope of fostering a culture of inclusion and understanding.”
Since its inception, the dayroom chat has covered topics such as: civic unrest, women’s equality and parenting through a pandemic.
“We developed the dayroom to help people understand that they’re not the only ones going through these problems,” said Master Sgt. Bryant Brown, 436th Supply Chain Operation Squadron Strategic Air-lift Weapons System Management Flight superintendent.
During these chats, participants are encouraged to share their experiences and learn from one another while continuing an open dialogue.
Senior Master Sgt. Danielle Brown, 375th Comptroller Squadron superintendent, explained, “People can come and share their testimonies. It’s designed to create a culture of vulnerability. Someone may be going through something and by sharing, it may help someone else.”
These chats have the capability to bring a variety of people together to discuss topics where everyone may not agree, but the conversation can be had, she said. Civilians and family members are also encouraged to participate in these discussions as well.
She asked, “What happens when people go home and they take off their uniform? It’s not just the uniform, it’s our family. The dayroom provides an open door for community members to come together and navigate through life’s challenges.”
“We’re all united by a common bond, but were all human too,” she added. “So how can we come together help each other as a community? Just helping build that resilience it makes folks stronger and realize its OK to be transparent and vulnerable, because you never know how you could be helping someone else.”
Another unit doing something similar is the 375th Security Forces squadron, where Master Sgt. Jeremy J. McCarty, 375th SFS logistics and resources superintendent, has helped facilitate these chats within his unit, and said it’s “critical to aiding individuals in supporting and understanding one another.”
He said that factors such as backgrounds, experiences, and thought processes can affect how people perceive and react to different situations. The focus of this initiative is to address those differences, internalize them, and, in turn, see the commonalties of each other as people and Airmen.
Speaking of the Dayroom Chats, Airman 1st Class James V. Carrillo, 375th SFS armorer, said “Usually there are no set topics or agendas. It’s all about hearing what’s on everyone's mind and letting the conversation grow organically.”
These conversations are intended to aid Airmen in developing empathy for others by actively listening to another’s perspective. One of the key points of that idea is to get clarification when individuals are confused or misunderstand and to discover a connection with those who think or believe differently about an important issue.
“These conversations are uncomfortable to a lot of people and that’s OK,” said Carrillo. “But to gain a better understanding of those to the left and right of you, it is important to know what they've been through and these conversations do just that.”
Both platforms hold meetings on a regular basis and respective team members said they welcome anyone else who wants to get involved or has ideas for topics to discuss.
The wing’s Dayroom Chat will have its next discussion Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. on “social isolation and how to cope.” For more information on how to get involved please contact Senior Master Sgt. Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or Master Sgt. Brown at email@example.com.
For more information on the SFS-sponsored Dayroom Chats please reach Carrillo at: firstname.lastname@example.org.