Five things you need to know about the Equal Opportunity office

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jesse Lopez
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
The 97th Air Mobility Wing Equal Opportunity office has found new life in the team of U.S. Air Force Capt. Shonta Smith and Tech. Sgt. Jeannette Warr.

The EO office had been vacant since November 2013, and previous EO complaints were directed to Sheppard AFB, Texas. Smith and Warr arrived recently, and the Altus AFB EO office is reopen for business.

Here are five things you need to know about your new Equal Opportunity office:
#1 - Smith was born in Albany, GA, and raised in Japan and Warr was born in Queens, NY and raised in Florida. Although they're fresh from their respective EO technical schools, both Smith and Warr are prepared to aid base personnel with any and all EO needs.

#2 - The EO office does not serve only military members. There is also a civilian EO complaints program that covers all appropriated and non-appropriated fund employees, prior employees and applicants to Department of Defense services.

#3 - The 97th Equal Opportunity office's mission is to achieve an environment free from personal, social or institutional obstructions that may prevent Air Force members from rising to their highest potential. The biggest misconception many have about the EO office is that they handle any and all complaints. The EO office is here to enforce DoD and Air Force's policy of zero tolerance of unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment. It is against these policies for anyone to unlawfully discriminate against or harass another person on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, in addition to, age, disability, reprisal or genetic information for civilians. Therefore, when someone files a complaint it has to be in EO's purview in order to receive assist in the complaint processing. Although the EO office is here to assist, if an individual's issues do not involve a protected category, then the EO office has to refer him or her to another agency like the Inspector General, the Alternative Dispute Resolution program, or even their chain of command.

#4 - When dealing with an issue that falls under EO purview they are not lighthearted matters, so being up front with them from the beginning of the process helps the individual understand what EO's job is and how the processes works. Holding anything back will just hinder the process and creates more work for in the long run. EO also keeps in mind that everyone is different and something that may not be an issue to someone can genuinely bother another. The EO team must stay neutral and focus on the complainant.

#5 - EO also advises the varied ethnic/special observance committees. Although the EO office is not responsible for the actual event planning, they serve as the subject matter experts and advisors for each committee with all coordination and planning going through EO before the wing's final approval. These events serve as an opportunity for cross-cultural awareness and educating personnel about different racial, religious, ethnic, and gender groups that make up Team Altus. The purpose of all special observance events is to promote mutual respect, teamwork, and harmony.