WINGs paves way for Osan women
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Women in the military often face challenges as a minority. Through the years, women have slowly been able to take on roles in various high level positions that were once prohibited. But, there has been little-to-no mentorship in guiding professional and leadership development to suit the minority.
Here on Osan, Women Inspiring the Next Generations provide an opportunity for women to not only develop as a service member, but to grow and learn about themselves.
"WINGs is a group working to inspire the current and next generation of women to be strong, independent and resilient within our military community," said Master Sgt. Shawntell Miller, 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron and WINGs president. "It was established here because the need was recognized. We have a lot of younger females new to the Air Force or new to Korea who are seeking that guidance or mentoring in an environment free from work."
WINGs is mostly a mentoring or fellowship group and a safe haven from the daily grind.
"At the gatherings, we discuss things that may be happening in the work center or off-duty," said Miller. "There are no barriers on what we discuss. I have a lot of stories, resources and avenues that could help almost anyone."
The members from the group vary from airman basic to lieutenant colonel, along with first sergeants, chief master sergeants and some Army soldiers.
"We call them gatherings to allow for a more relaxed environment of discussion," said Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, 7th Air Force command chief. "WINGs is not about being a Woman entitled, it's about being a Woman inspired to lead, teach, coach, mentor, and grow at all levels and within any organization. It's through the stories of others that we are inspired and encouraged to believe 'we can.'"
Frey has led three gatherings so far.
"It was evident by the response and interaction of the females present, this is needed," she said. "All three sessions have been powerful and I can sense an environment of trust and comfort listening to each woman reveal one word that describes what they want to accomplish this year and leaving looking forward to the next gathering."
Currently, the group is available here and recently activated on Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea as well. The group is open to all female military, active, guard and reserve, along with Department of Defense employees and spouses.
"My hope is that WINGs expands, not just here in Korea but throughout our Air Force as an platform for women to learn and gain confidence from women; and couple that with the mentorship of their male counterparts and mentors because both are vitally important," said Frey. "As I grew in our Air Force, there weren't many women I could seek out for a female point of view, I was mentored by great male leaders, however; there was still a void, a missing link.
"I would like to see a cross-section of women inspiring each other, where Women can come and feel safe laying down their vulnerabilities, exposing their fears, and sharing their stories to inspire and be inspired."
WINGs hosts monthly gatherings on the second Tuesday of each month at 4:30 p.m., location TBD. WINGs has teamed with the Army 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade to participate in their "Female Mentorship" classes. For more information about WINGs contact them at Osan_WINGS@us.af.mil or like their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OsanWINGS.