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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

“The strength of the Department of the Navy is found in our people. Our success relies upon leveraging the diverse talents and unique perspectives of every Sailor, Marine and civilian. … We have an obligation to demonstrate daily, through our words and actions, that every person is valued. When we embrace diversity and inclusion, we will find that the sum of our actions are greater than our individual efforts.”

Those words by Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer ring true for me every day. As our sea services place greater emphasis on ensuring that they find strength in a winning team with their diverse workforce, our Navy League too must follow this lead and look to ourselves to be more inclusive.

At our headquarters, I’m proud to lead a team from many backgrounds, with many different stories to tell and many ways they got to be the successful people they are. The same is true for our members. When I visit different councils around the country and speak with our valued members abroad, I’m reminded that there is no right or wrong way to support the sea services.

People with different backgrounds bring different ideas, and there is unmeasurable strength that comes with that. We will not reach our goals if we go it alone. Having an all-inclusive team ensures that all of us as individuals are more capable. This is what makes for a winning team.

The absence of diversity and inclusion sows the seeds of division and fear. Our sea services cannot be effective in the face of these obstacles, and neither can our Navy League. As we look to grow our membership — a challenge every military and veteran service organization is facing right now — we must strive for diversity. You truly never know where you will find someone inspired to serve those who serve others.

As a first-generation American born thousands of miles from the United States myself, I can assure you that people from all over the world with different backgrounds and many different ideas can still be passionate and fervent in their support of our nation’s Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and U.S.-flag Merchant Marine. As these services, and their leaders, continue to place an emphasis on diversity, the Navy League too is formalizing our plans to celebrate our community from all walks of life.

We are enhancing our communications to be more inclusive of the hallmark events throughout the year that celebrate diversity. Everyone seeking to support our sea services brings value to our organization, and we want to assure our community that everyone who pledges support to our organization is welcome.

In the words of a great leader and our Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, “Actively being inclusive and open to diverse perspectives will produce leaders and teams who learn and adapt to achieve maximum possible performance, and who achieve and maintain high standards, to be ready for decisive operations and combat. Let’s get to it.”

There’s no one way to be a great Navy Leaguer. There’s no one type of person who is going to make our organization excel and win. But there is one way we can ensure that we reach our goals and our mission soars to new heights, and that is together as one inclusive team.

One Team — Mission Focused