Celebration and education; Equal Opportunity

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ashley N. Steffen
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

In 1948, Ester Blake became the first enlisted female in the U.S. Air Force, pictures were still black and white, and families gathered around radios for the evening news. Since then, the U.S. Air Force has gone through many changes.

The Davis-Monthan Equal Opportunity office specializes in making sure that everyone is treated equally and recognized for their differences positively. 

They celebrate observances, such as, last month's reorganization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride month, next month's Women Equality Day, and Hispanic Heritage Month starting September 15. These are just a few observances D-M's EO office promotes.

"We aim to celebrate and educate," said Barbra A. Dycus, 355th Fighter Wing equal opportunity specialist. 

Observance committees are formed offering volunteer opportunities for Airmen and civilians to create events for ethnic and special observances. EO searches for diversity in these volunteers, which allows an open flow of ideas. 

"Folks, who aren't of the celebrated ethnicity or group, are highly encouraged to bring in different views," said Master Sgt. Bradford C. Bowen, 355th Fighter Wing, EO superintendent "Having a great celebration and gaining education, that's what it's all about, not playing into stereotypes." 

Not only does EO recognize and celebrate individualism, they also offer multiple services to offices and individuals to aid in creating a non-discriminatory work environment.

Military members cannot be discriminated against based on race, religion, color, sex, origin, and now sexual orientation. Department of Defense civilians cannot be discriminated against based on race, religion, color, sex, origin, sexual orientation, mental or physical disabilities, age, and reprisal.

Davis-Monthan's EO sends out anonymous surveys on behalf of the commanders to allow Airmen and civilians to share how they are being treated within their working environment. These surveys help people reach out if they feel discriminated against, if there is cohesion in the work place, or underlying racial or sexual jokes. If someone feels like they are being discriminated against, they should reach out to EO within 60 days of the incident.

Another service they provide is mediation which can aid in resolving conflict within offices, or between two people.

"In my opinion the Air Force is the most diverse workforce in the world, you could not ask for a better cross section or blend in society," Bowen said. "The EO office is here to ensure that the blend of individuals get the chance to work together on a regular basis and maintain a positive synergy. With that positive synergy you can accomplish anything."

Since the Air Force opened its doors it's overcome many diverse challenges, allowing more opportunities for people to serve without fear of discrimination.

"From my point of view, anyone who is capable of accomplishing the job should be able to serve," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James.