CMSgt. Arthur: Establishing representation at every level

  • Published
  • By Airman Spencer Hanson
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

When Chief Master Sgt. Vanessa Arthur, 354th Medical Group senior enlisted leader, thinks about role models for black history month, Brian Stevenson comes to mind for his work in the Equal Justice Initiative. 

This organization works to free minorities that are wrongly incarcerated or reduce their sentences. He also memorializes the history of slavery through his museum in Alabama and finds sites of lynching victims so families can find closure.

“His work inspires me to see people who have made a difference in the world,” Arthur said. “Seeing the amount of years he’s worked on this project makes me think, this is what I have to do -- I need to help people.”

Today the Air Force has diversity initiatives in place like the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility Strategic Plan (DEIA) that works to invest in attracting, recruiting, developing, and retaining a diverse Total Force, ensuring a culture of inclusion. However, Arthur sometimes still finds herself as a minority as the only black female in a room. 

“It feels good to be a black chief because I represent not only the other black Airmen that are around but the female Airmen as well,” Arthur explains. “I feel like representation is important at all levels. It's important for people to see someone who looks like them, whether that be religion, race or gender, they’re all important. ”

Helping people has been a theme throughout the chief's career since she first joined as a diet therapy technician where she found fulfillment teaching others to improve their diet and lose weight.

“I had a patient who was on eight to 10 different medications,” said Arthur. “He came in and then after about three months, he was down to two medications. [He] lost a significant amount of weight because he knew he needed to make a change. I feel like those things are just rewarding.”

As a chief Arthur has been a motivating figure for Airmen like Senior Airman Sekou Williams, a 354th Medical Material Technician. 

“She’s a very motivated leader,” said Williams,. “Ever since she's come here she's made positive changes to the medical group.” 

For Arthur, her focus as a chief has been on educating and uplifting the new generation of Airmen.

“This stripe isn't about me, it’s about the people that I can help,” Arthur said. “Being mindful of the challenges our Airmen face everyday, I can appropriately advocate for change and use my position to amplify their voices to foster an environment where diversity, equity, and inclusion are embraced.”

For more information about Arthur, watch her highlight video at