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December 11, 2019

Rainey President & Co-Founder Tells Congress - Inclusivity is a National Security Matter

By Rainey Center

Before adjourning for the holidays, Co-Founder and President Bishop Garrison testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill to testify during a hearing titled:  “Diversity in Recruiting and Retention: Increasing Diversity in the Military – What the Military Services are Doing”. 

Convened on December, 10th of last year, Bishop Garrison, a former U.S. Army Officer, was part of a distinguished panel of military commanders and veterans who addressed the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. Subcommittee Chairwoman, Jackie Speier (D-CA), opened the hearing with the observation that “diversity is an asset as minorities and women have unique perspectives they bring to the fight and diverse teams are more innovative and effective.” 

U.S. Army Lt. General Thomas C. Seamands, Navy Vice Admiral John B. Nowell Jr., Air Force Lt. General Brian T. Kelly, Marine Corps Lt. General Michael A. Rocco, Air Force veteran, Pam Campos-Palma and Kayla Williams, a former U.S. Army linguist joined Mr. Garrison in the hope of shedding  greater light on efforts being made by the military to increase diversity, including the representation of women and people of color within their ranks.

“Although the military has made remarkable strides toward a true meritocracy since my father’s era, serious problems linger,” Mr. Garrison began. He continued by praising the committee for recognizing the importance of their engagement in the discussion and underscored the value of diversity in the armed forces noting the promotion of “inclusivity and respect within ranks is not only the right thing to do morally, but also a matter of national security.”

He then emphasized to the committee that diversity plays a major role in fostering cohesion, leading to increased job satisfaction, retention and improved discipline. Mr. Garrison also highlighted importance of incorporating varied perspectives in all levels of decision making in order to overcome tunnel vision and detrimental groupthink mentalities.

Finally, he cautioned that many current political challenges and ongoing narratives in American society “could be affecting interest in serving, especially among minorities.”

“While this issue is admittedly complex,” he concluded “congressional action can play a stabilizing roll” in ongoing and important discussions about inclusion and greater rates of retention in the ranks of minority services members. 

“My appreciation and love for this service is, in fact, why I believe it is so important for this committee to engage in this discussion. But had I been afforded more direct mentorship and more examples of leaders who reflected my own life experience, I would have been more likely to remain a member of the Army. Like my father a half a century before me, I decided to seek out other ways to continue serving my community and country.”

Read his full testimony.

Watch Testimony Below

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