Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief, National Guard Bureau, and the National Guard's Joint Executive Council discuss diversity and inclusion during the JDEC Conference held at the National Guard Professional Education Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas, October 25, 2017. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez)

Courtesy Photo

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The South Dakota Army National Guard won a National Guard Bureau Excellence in Diversity Award for fiscal year 2016 presented at the National Guard Diversity Training Workshop at the Professional Education Center at Camp Robinson.

The NGB Excellence in Diversity Awards are presented to outstanding National Guard individuals, organizations, states and territories for significant contributions to diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“Enhancing diversity and inclusion has been one of my top priorities since being appointed to this position in 2011,” said Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch, SDNG adjutant general. “The closer that our units represent the overall demographics of the State of South Dakota, the better we will be.”

The SDARNG received the award in the Army National Guard organization/unit category, which recognizes significant contributions to readiness with regard to participation, leadership, new initiatives, and exemplifies diversity of thought and inclusion of non-traditional leaders of all ranks.

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The SDARNG and its Army Diversity Council have led the state in diversity initiatives along with other community-based organizations and promoted broader diversity and cultural understanding. These initiatives have served to embed diversity in our strategic initiatives, as well as within its force development and recruiting and retention marketing approaches, and showcase various internal and external diversity programs linking directly to unit combat readiness.

The SDARNG’s Lt. Col. Joe Jacobson, Command Sgt. Maj. Cory Rabenberg and Sgt. Maj. Eric Jennings initiated the award nomination based on community support missions and international participation in the Golden Coyote training exercise.

The SDARNG exercise supported several timber hauling missions to South Dakota’s Native American reservations. Five nations – Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Suriname – participated in the exercise, along with units from the U.S. Navy, Army Reserve and National Guard from across the nation. In addition, the SDARNG held four celebrations in 2015 in honor of Lakota code talker veterans at locations around the state, which culminated at Crazy Horse Memorial on Veterans Day with over 700 people in attendance.

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