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Airman becomes part of presidential advisory commission

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. (AFNS) -- With family, friends and co-workers in the audience, the Air Force District of Washington executive officer sat among a group of leaders in the Asian American and Pacific Islander, or AAPI, community waiting to be sworn into the President's Advisory Commission on AAPIs May 6.

The swearing-in took place at a ceremony hosted by the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., featuring remarks by the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

"I'm standing before a roomful of people who represent an incredibly vibrant resource to the U.S.," Biden said. "AAPIs have succeeded generation after generation."

Lt. Col. Ravi Chaudhary, the AFDW executive officer, is one of those successful AAPIs he said. During his Air Force career, he has served as a squadron commander, the chief of strategy integration for Air Force Strategic plans and programs and as a speechwriter in the secretary of the Air Force executive action group. Chaudhary also logged more than 3,000 flight hours as a C-17 Globemaster III pilot and flight test engineer, including more than 700 combat hours.

"AAPIs are fast on the rise, and it's important to both recognize the community's great diversity and the importance of government and community working together to address the unique challenges we face," said Kiran Ahuja, the initiative's executive director during the ceremony.

Chaudhary is ready to embrace the challenge of his new position, he said. The day he received a phone call from a White House staff member about his selection for the commission was surreal, he said, leaving him feeling humbled and excited.

"I've been blessed my entire life with family, friends, supervisors and colleagues who have supported me to no end," he said. "I'm most certainly a product of their dedication, devotion and love."

Many of his supporters were there as Chaudhary took the stage during the ceremony to take an oath of service as he was sworn in with the new commission members, adding a special meaning to the ceremony for him.

"As military members, we are bound by our oaths to support and defend our Constitution, with our lives if necessary," he said. "Naturally, (this) was a solemn moment for me and a bit emotional, because joining me were friends and family who were also present for my first oath more than 20 years ago, to include my roommate from the Air Force Academy and the officer who administered my oath as a second lieutenant. It was truly an honor to affirm those words once again with my fellow AAPI Commission members."

As Chaudhary listened to briefings by dozens of government agencies during his first week on the commission, one fact became abundantly clear to him.

"My mission is to ensure that the men and women serving in bunkers, ships and aircraft all over the world have one more voice in Washington to speak on behalf of their needs," he said. "I look forward to hitting the ground running and serving on behalf of my fellow service members and their families."

As a commission member Chaudhary will serve as the eyes and ears of the president, and represent him on the full range of issues affecting AAPIs.

"I will be tasked with partnering with government leaders on important policy issues such as veterans employment, education, economic development, language access, cultural immersion and military diversity," he said. "All of these issues have huge implications for veterans and military families, and I'm humbled by the opportunity to assist. One of the best parts of my service on the commission is that my role as an Airman is not diminished -- you'll still see me proudly wearing Air Force blue and executing my mission every day at Joint Base Andrews."

Chaudhary encourages Airmen to become involved within their communities and engage with efforts like the AAPI.

"As Airmen, we come from all types of communities and walks of life," he said. "When we join together to serve our nation, we also garner insight on the communities of our fellow wingmen we may have otherwise have missed out on. As a Hindu, I've shared the Bhagavad Gita with my fellow Airmen, who in turn shared important Bible passages with me. These moments of cross cultural exchange have enriched my experiences in the Air Force, and will help prepare our future leaders to better meet global challenges."
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