Analysis of Ethnic Groups in The US Military

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Gary L. Whaley
Norfolk State University
Moncef Belhadjali
Norfolk State University
ABSTRACT
A study of the Native American racial/ethnic group in the military and federal service
reveals some striking differences in perceptions and attitudes of this group when compared to
other ethnic groups employed within the Department of Defense. These differences would give
cause for concern for any Equal Employment Officer (EEO). The purpose of this paper is to
examine the Military Equal Opportunity Climate Survey (MEOCS) data to determine the depth,
and breathe of the observed differences for the American Indian/Alaskan Native ethnic group.
Further we will offer possible theoretical explanation as to why the Native American and Alaska
Native ethnic group does standout from other races/ethnic groups on these measures of
perceptions and attitude. This study is clearly in the initial stages and suggestions for future
research are offered.
 

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INTRODUCTION
The Office of Management and Budget published it revisions to the standards for the
classification of Federal data on race and ethnicity October 30, 1997. The categories for data on
race and ethnicity for Federal statistics, program administration reporting, and civil rights
compliance are: American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian, Black or African American; Hispanic
or Latino; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and, White. The reporting category
American Indian or Alaska Native is the smallest recognized ethnic group in the United States.
The U. S. Census Bureau reports for the year 1999 that of the 299.4 million population 2.9
million, or 1 percent, identify themselves as among the Native American ethnic group (U. S.
Census Bureau, p. 9). The composition of the military reflects a very similar distribution. Of the
1,369,167 members of the active duty armed forces, 14,433, or 1.1 percent, are Native American
(Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, p. 12).
The Directorate of Research (DR) at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management
Institute (DEOMI) has primary responsibility for administering the Military Equal Opportunity
Climate Survey (MEOCS) within the Department of Defense at the request of any military or
civilian unit. As an aid for the improvement of the equal opportunity and organizational climates
within a unit, the MEOCS contains 100 items assessing equal opportunity (EO) and
organizational effectiveness (OE) issues. These items are used in scales to measure nine EO and
three OE factors. Table 1 below presents a brief description of these twelve scales (Landis,
Dansby & Faley, 1993).
Since 1990, over 6,000 MEOCS unit-level surveys have been completed and returned to
DR. DR currently maintains this cumulative database containing over 1,000,000 individual
cases. In an exploratory examination, the researchers stratified the data by gender and race.
Table 2 below reveals the breakdown of this database by Sex and Racial-Ethnic Group. The data
demonstrate that the American Indian/Alaskan Native segment of the sample data, while greater
than the general population, is a relatively small percentage: approximately 3%. While the
percentage is small we are still taking about over thirty thousand individuals.
Next, the data was further examined with respect of perceptions and attitudes by gender
and race. These data are presented in Table 3 below. As revealed in Table 3, American
Indian/Alaskan Natives when compared to other ethnic groups are generally on the low end of
the various perceptual and attitudinal measures presented in the MEOCS. The means for cells
which are underlined denote that they are the lowest score by gender across that MEOCS scale.
It is the purpose of this paper to determine if these differences are statistically significant and to
suggest a possible explanation for these observations.
 

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FULL TABLES here http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/08104.pdf


DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
There may be several different explanations for the general dissatisfaction and negative
perceptions of the general working environment reported by American Indians and Alaskan
Natives in the MEOCS data. One possible explanation is "post traumatic stress disorder"
(PTSD). In their review of the literature on PTSD, Lev-Wiesel and Amir (2001) cite several
studies suggesting the disorder may be transmitted from those who actually experienced trauma
to those with whom they are in a close or intimate relationship such as spouses, children or
caregivers, i.e., secondary traumatic stress disorder (STSD). They cite studies demonstrating the
STSD is characterized by symptoms nearly identical to those suffering from PTSD. The only
difference being that for STSD exposure to the traumatic event(s) is indirect while for the PSTD
victims the traumatic event is directly experienced.
The symptoms of STSD include general distress, psychoticism, phobic anxiety,
avoidance behavior, and depression among other things. The study conducted by Lev-Wiesel
and Amir (2001) concluded that PTSD experienced by a survivor of the holocaust contributed
significantly to the STSD symptoms of their spouses who had not directly experienced the
holocaust.
Kellermann (2001) discusses how PTSD may be transmitted to the children of holocaust
victims. Four models of transmission are discussed which suggest that PTSD in parents
produces in their children emotional problems, difficulties in coping with stress, impaired selfesteem
with persistent identity problems and anxiety, among other things (Kellermann ,2001:
259-260).
The general population is reported to experience PTSD at the rate of 8%, research
suggests that 22% American Indians display symptoms of PTSD (Yellow Horse Brave Heart,
2003). Many researchers have argued that the Native American history of trauma and
unresolved grief plays a significant role in the current social pathology of the Native American
today (Yellow Horse Brave Heart and DeBruyn, 1998; Yellow Horse Brave Heart, 2003; Walter,
et al., 2002; and, Tann, et al., 2007). They have labeled this phenomenon as "historical
unresolved grief" and link it to high rates of suicide, homicide, domestic violence, child abuse,
alcoholism and other social problems among this effected group. These authors cite much
literature drawing the parallels between the Jewish Holocaust in Europe with that of the
American Indian (Yellow Horse Brave Heart and DeBruyn, 1998: 62-64).
This proposition seems to hold credence when you consider the history of the Jews after
WWII and the Black African American who historically suffered similar trauma under slavery.
For the holocaust victims there was a final victory—Germany lost the war. There were trials,
people were punished for their roles in the holocaust and Israel was created. Each of these
events could ease the process of healing from such trauma.
For the Black American there was a Civil War and slavery was abolished. There were
civil rights protests and riots in the 50's, 60's, and 70's resulting in victories for equal rights and
opportunities for minorities in the United States. These too would serve to help heal the wounds
of trauma experienced by generations of Black Americans. But, for the American Indians there
has been little or none of this and thus, the healing has not taken place.
To conclude, there is general agreement in the literature with regard to the existence of
this problem for the Native American population. As to a major contributor to the problem,
Journal of Academic and Business Ethics, Volume 2
A Comparative Analysis, Page 7
historical trauma has gained general acceptance as a primary causal factor within the Native
American populations (Whitbeck, et al., 2004). But, in terms of proffering a solution, the
literature presents no quick or easy remedy. Yellow Horse Brave Heart and DeBruyn (1998: 75)
suggest that "community healing along with individual and family healing are necessary to
thoroughly address historical unresolved grief and its present manifestations"¦without such
commitment to healing the past, we will not be able to address the resultant trauma and prevent
the continuation of such atrocities in the present". Walters, et al. (2002) posit a similar solution,
i.e., one which focuses on family, community, spirituality and traditional Native American
healing practices.
FUTURE RESEARCH
This paper is clearly a preliminary examination of an important issue. These authors plan
to expand their review of the literature on the issues of traumatic stress. The data base will be
examined more closely to determine if there are specific issues/events in the American
Indian/Alaska Native experience within the Department of Defense which may contribute to or
create the problems identified here. The effectiveness of potential solutions needs to be
examined. Finally, the authors will investigate to what extent there may be gender differences in
the American Indian/Alaskan Native organizational commitment, job satisfaction and
organization equal opportunity climate.
 

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REFERENCES
Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (2001). Annual occupation profile of
minorities and women in the Department of Defense. Statistical Series Pamphlet no. 02-
3, Research Directorate, 740 O'Malley Road, Patrick AFB, Florida.
Kellermann, N. (2001). Transmission of Holocaust trauma - An integrative view. Psychiatry, v.
64, n 3, pp 256-267.
Landis, D, Dansby, D. & Faley, R. H. (1993). The Military Equal Opportunity Climate Survey:
An example of surveying in organizations. In P. Rosenfeld, J. E. Edwards, and M. D.
Thomas (Eds.), Improving organizational surveys: New Directions, methods, and
applications (pp. 122-142). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Lev-Wiesel, R.& Amir, M. (2001). Secondary traumatic stress, psychological distress, sharing of
traumatic reminisces, and marital quality among spouses of Holocaust child survivors.
Journal of Martial and Family Therapy, v. 27, n. 4, pp 433-444.
Tann, S., Yabiku S., Okamoto, S., & Yanow, J. (2007).TRIADD: The risk for alcohol abuse,
depression and diabetes multimorbidity in American Indian and Alaska Native
population. American Indian and Alaskan Native Mental Health Research: The Journal of
the National Center, v. 14, n. 1, pp. 1-21.
U. S. Census Bureau (2008). Statistical Abstract of the United States Population, Washington,
D.C.
Walter, K., Simoni, J., & Evans-Campbell, T. (2002). Substance use among American Indians
and Alaska Natives: Incorporating culture in an 'Indigenist' stress-coping paradigm.
Public Health Reports, v. 117, supplement 1, pp. 104-117.
Westberg, J. (2000). Mental health: Healing deep wounds from the inside out. Winds of Change,
v 15, n 4, pp 20-28.
Journal of Academic and Business Ethics, Volume 2
A Comparative Analysis, Page 8
Whitbeck, L., Hoyt, D., Johnson, K., & Chen, X. (2006). Mental disorders among
parent/caretakers of American Indian early adolescents in the North Midwest. Social
Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, v. 41, n. 8, pp. 623-640.
Yellow Horse Brave Heart, M., & DeBruyn, L. (1998). The American Indian Holocaust: Healing
historical unresolved grief. The American Indian and Alaska native Mental Heath
Research Series in The Journal of the National Center, v. 8, n. 2, pp 60-82.
Yellow Horse Brave Heart, M. (2003). Historical trauma response among Native and its
relationship with substance abuse: A Lakota illustration. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs,
v. 35, pp. 7-13.
 

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