Gilbert Cisneros, a Navy veteran and former Democratic California representative, announced Monday plans to retire as the Department of Defense (DOD) head for personnel policy, leaving a legacy of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policies.
The Pentagon touted Cisneros‘ record in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation on Monday, fueling the implementation of new policies developed under his watch to address sexual assault and suicide. Cisneros also presided over numerous social policies that became the subject of conservative ire, such as the DOD pandemic response, ensuring acceptance of the once-mandated COVID-19 vaccine and policies making it easier for female servicemembers to access contraceptives and abortion.
“During the two years Under Secretary Cisneros served in his role, he was a steadfast and faithful servant in the Department’s mission to take care of our people. His commitment to the ‘people first’ approach helped the Department improve the quality of life of our Service members and their families,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement.
Cisneros’ team in the Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness (P&R) spearheaded initiatives that promoted “strategic readiness” across DOD to “better assess operational decision impacts on force readiness,” Austin said. (RELATED: ‘Threat To Our Readiness’: Top Space Force Official Rails Against ‘Anti-LGBTQ+’ Laws In Red States)
The Pentagon’s abortion policy allows servicemembers to take extra leave time and seek reimbursements for expenses incurred if they have to travel out of their duty station state to legally access abortions. Cisneros’ successor, although a civilian leader, could face a delay in confirmations that also affects most general and flag officers in the military brought on by Republican Alabaman Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold in protest of that policy, according to Military Times.
Cisneros plans to step down in early September, the Pentagon said, and a successor has not been announced.
Protecting, optimizing, and defending your mental health are vital to your well-being and to the readiness of our military force. No matter what you’re facing, you don’t have to do it alone. @MilitaryHealth System can help. https://t.co/ZgfOhxnu3d#DefendYourMH pic.twitter.com/0c0Q04rE8T
— USD (P&R) (@DoD_USD_PR) July 19, 2023
When Congress members complained that P&R was moving too slowly in implementing sexual assault and prevention reforms, Cisneros said he intended the process to move methodically, according to Military Times.
“Getting this right requires we move on expeditiously as possible to implement change, while also ensuring we do not rush to failure,” Cisneros told lawmakers. “If we improperly rush now, we will not be able to pick up the pieces and establish trust with our service members again.”
The military has struggled to meet recruitment targets despite heightened attention on military quality of life issues, leaving much for the future personnel chief to do, according to Military Times.
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