Supporting Those Who Defend Us
Wyoming can be proud of the many contributions we make to our nation. Most of us are aware of the way we do that through our energy, tourism and agriculture sectors. Feeding and powering modern life is an important basis for our country's success and something our citizens excel at. But one of the most important contributions Wyoming makes to the nation doesn't have to do with the private sector at all, but rather deals with the active duty military mission within our borders.
Wyoming is home to the 90th Missile Wing, one of three operational Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) units. This unit is responsible for 150 Minuteman III ICBMs and has provided these combat ready nuclear forces to the President continuously since the early 1960s. This plays a part in the overall mission of nuclear deterrence that has successfully prevented an all out war between major powers since WWII.
As racial tension boiled over in many parts of the country, the affects were felt here as well. As if being responsible for the deadliest weapons in the history of the world isn't enough stress for our airmen and their families, some airmen have to deal with racially charged harassment and discrimination in the local community.
As disappointing as the actions of some bad apples have been, I have been impressed with the overall response from the Cheyenne community. Governor Gordon and Cheyenne Major Patrick Collins demonstrated leadership by swiftly condemning this unacceptable behavior. The local Chamber of Commerce has stepped up by not just condemning racist behavior, but also by instituting programs like "Adopt an Airman" that builds meaningful connections between airmen and community members. These positive examples exemplify the Cheyenne community I remember and was proud to be a part of when I was stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base almost a decade ago.
Unfortunately, one important local entity hasn't responded in any meaningful fashion. Laramie County School District #1 was the last to acknowledge the problem in their district since being made aware of the problem over two years ago. Even the most modest gesture, in the form of a symbolic resolution, came only after the 90th Missile Wing Commander took the extraordinary step of publicly calling out the lack of concern in a school board meeting last spring. To this date, LCSD #1 has not taken any concrete action to improve the problem and at least two families got permission from the wing commander to leave Wyoming early because of the way their kids were being treated in public schools.
The failure of local public school leadership to address this important issue compels the legislature to act. Senate File 123 will empower active duty military parents whose kids have faced discrimination in our public schools to choose a different school within the district without school board approval. The airmen of the 90th Missile Wing make important decisions every day. This measure will empower these airmen to protect their kids while staying in the local school district. Most importantly, it demonstrates to those who work so hard to protect us from our existential threats that we have their backs and appreciate their service in our state.