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BAFB to host first Ladies’ Empowerment Social and Book Club

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Team Buckley is scheduled to host the first Ladies' Empowerment Social and Book Club event 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Leadership Development Center.

The event is open to women 18 years old and up who have access to the installation. Activities at the event will feature a book discussion, wine tasting, other assorted beverages, appetizers and an opportunity for Team Buckley women to socialize and network.

The book to be discussed is a national bestseller, "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin De Becker. While focus will be placed on the book, reading it is not a requirement to attend.

"This wine tasting and ladies social is really a kick off. The book club is ultimately a way that gets us all together," said Christina Stump, 460th Space Wing community support coordinator. "The book is centered on two primary things: power and control. ... It's how to protect yourself from somebody that is trying to control you or get power over you in certain situations.

"The author was on Oprah to talk about situations that you don't really think about and how we respond to these situations. It's very interesting," she added, revealing it was Col. DeAnna Burt, 460th Operations Group commander, who recommended the book to her.

"I read the book and a lot of it resonates with me. It's a depressing book in some respects, but some of the core things that it talks about, I think, are valuable; and it will then play to our discussion about mentoring, talking and working together as female military professionals at all levels," said Burt.

During the empowerment social, Burt and other senior female leaders on base will have the opportunity to share personal experiences of rising through the ranks as a woman in the military.

"Here's what's going to happen Thursday: I'm going to stand up in front of the room and I'm going to tell stories. I'm going to say some things that put me in a vulnerable position because I want to talk about some things that happened to me as a lieutenant that were scary," said Burt. "When I came into the military there weren't very many women in the Air Force. I've (been) in a lot of places where I was the only female - in a class, the unit. That's just the way it is. But I've seen that start to change.

"I have been lucky to have made some female mentors in my career. I don't think all women in the military have had that opportunity because if you haven't worked for a female or if you haven't had a female supervisor, you may not have interacted in that way," Burt added. "That's what we're hoping to open is the dialogue and the mentoring part of this."

The empowerment social brings a unique opportunity not previously available to Buckley women that places not only military females, but also spouses, children, civilians and contractors into one cohesive atmosphere.

While a ladies' social was already being planned to bring female community members together, sexual assault statistics were released, and the need to address the sexual assault issue in such a forum was obvious to its planners.

"We had been talking about doing a social ... for us to build camaraderie and community on our installation. And when (the sexual assault statistics were released), this was just another way for us to reinforce something that we had been talking about wanting to do," said Stump. "(Sexual assault) is being looked at across the board at all levels. We're wanting to do more here at Buckley, and we feel this is a great way to start to build not only community but to get folks to feel comfortable talking about this issue.

"(Air Force Space Command) has asked each of the wings to come up with different ideas of how we can attack this, so what we came up with at Buckley is to have an empowerment seminar where women can get together and talk about this issue and talk about power and control. This book is just kind of a way to get to talking together in a comfortable environment," Stump added. "We saw the need to address it at the local level, (and) this is a great venue for us to do so."

Even though the undertone of the gathering will include addressing the issue of sexual assault in military environments, those who coordinated the event are looking for more than just spitting out facts and reiterating the same discussions on the topic that have been shared in the past.

"I think a lot of people are worried about the myths. They think it's going to be a Debbie-downer discussion about sexual assault and all this really depressing stuff. It's not. I think it's going to be very eye opening. I think it's going to allow all women on the base to understand that ... there are people who have been there and done that," Burt clarified.

Stump's description of the event echoed Burt's sentiments in desiring the event to be a positive occasion.

"We want people to come together and talk together. We want them to enjoy their time; we want them to learn from it; we want them to build relationships and enjoy themselves," Stump said. "We're really trying to put a positive spin on a difficult subject to talk about.

"So far, the feedback that we've gotten from the community on this event has been overwhelmingly positive," said Stump. "It's not just talking about sexual assault, but I see this as something bigger. ... As an installation, we'll grow together."

Stump and Burt both expressed commitment to ensuring future community-building events are made available to Team Buckley. Such potential events include self-defense classes for women and a men's gathering to address that sexual assault is not merely an act that affects women.

For more information or to RSVP, call DSN 847-6881 or 847-9414; or call commercial (720) 847-6881 or (720) 847-9414.
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