ANCHORAGE, Alaska —
Lt. Gen. Thomas A. Bussiere, former commander of Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, Alaskan Command, and Eleventh Air Force presented Julie Kitka, president of the Alaska Federation of Natives, a significant award, here on April 16, 2020.
The Commander’s Public Service Award was established for civilians whose service or achievements significantly contributed to the accomplishment of a mission of an Air Force command, staff agency, or command. During Bussiere’s command, he affirmed Kitka’s engagements, the bridging of cultural differences, and ceaseless efforts directly supporting the Department of Defense’s Arctic Strategy and National Security interests. It was the first such award given by Bussiere, and also the first received by Kitka.
“It's very special,” Kitka said. “It's just a recognition of the work that we have done together since he's been the commander up here - all the events and engagements that we planned and put together.”
Candidates for the honor are civilians who are not employed by the Department of the Air Force and who have either aided in realizing specific achievements, major projects, or assisted in an Air Force unit in reaching a major milestone. Ms. Kitka conducted numerous engagements with general and flag officers across the services, congressional delegations, and senior officials from the State Department and Department of Defense.
She also hosted multiple Alaska Day events at the nation’s capital, bringing together United States military, private industry, and the Native community, sharing critical information and strengthening relationships. “I think it's great,” Kitka said. “The partnership is really great and it was always only about building partnerships and relationships.”
The award cited that from Aug. 22, 2019 to March 27, 2020, Kitka served as president of the Alaska Federation of Natives on behalf of more than one hundred and forty thousand Native people to the Department of Defense, along with many other organizations across the country. Kitka said even though the award is special, it is due to the strength of the relationship between the military and the community. “It wasn’t something expected,” Kitka said. “I’m very honored – it's a pretty amazing award.”
As the long time president of the AFN, Kitka works with tribes, regional tribal consortiums, Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Native corporations and others to inspire and empower Alaska Native people to seek true self-determination and thrive. She also represents the AFN before the U.S. Congress and federal agencies and the Alaska State Legislature and state agencies on Native issues of statewide importance.
“I want to congratulate my friend, Julie Kitka, on this much-deserved award and I thank the United States Air Force for recognizing her contributions, to both to our military and to the Alaska Native community,” Alaska U.S. Senator for Alaska Dan Sullivan said. “During her decades-long tenure as president of the Alaska Federation of Natives, Julie has worked tirelessly to create new opportunities for Alaska Native communities—including the opportunities made available by partnering with the Department of Defense. Because of Alaska’s strategic location, and our state’s leading role in keeping our nation safe, her leadership in this specific area is critical. Julie also has a deep appreciation for the special patriotism exhibited in the Alaska Native community—Alaska Natives serve in the military at greater numbers than any minority group in the country. She understands that there is a natural partnership between Alaska Natives and our military and that such a partnership is a win for our communities and for our country.”