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The Mountaineer Online

Equal Opportunity program helps build dignity, respect

Sgt. Eric Provost

4th Brigade Combat Team Journalist

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghan-istan – One of the principles America was founded on is that “All men are created equal.” The authors of the Constitution believed in those words so profoundly they inscribed them into the document’s preamble.
Almost 330 years later, the U.S. Army still believes just as fervently that all of its Soldiers are created equal.
“The Army is such a tight group, treating people with dignity and respect means a lot,” said Lt. Col. Michael Acord, deputy commanding officer, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), Task Force Patriot. “We have to treat one another in a manner that’s consistent with how we want to be treated.”
To ensure fair treatment, the Army’s equal opportunity program continuously educates Soldiers and Army Civilians on the principles of accepting diversity within the ranks and fair treatment regardless of race, gender, religion, color or national origin. EO leaders across the Army also handle claims of unfair treatment.
“We can handle anything,” said Master Sgt. Gorjis Jones, brigade EO adviser, 4th BCT. “Any of the five categories of EO, we can handle any situation.”
According to the Army’s EO website, Soldiers can file two types of reports when they feel they have experienced unfair treatment due to their race, gender, religion, color or national origin: informal and formal.
An informal EO complaint does not need to be submitted in writing, and it is used when the issue can be addressed at the lowest level.
No official report will be made.
When an individual submits a formal complaint, the EO leader will complete a Department of Army Form 7279, which prompts an official investigation.
The investigating officer takes two weeks to perform interviews and compile the data necessary to determine the course of action and then reports the results back to the complainant.
Soldiers have 60 days from the date of the incident to file a formal report.
Equal opportunity complaints are not limited to men and women in uniform; reports may also be submitted on behalf of military spouses and children living on or off post.
Consideration for the differences of others can be especially important for deployed Soldiers who work and even fight side by side with people from a vastly different culture in the Afghan National Security Forces.
“Our neighbors are just like us; they might read a different book, but they are our neighbors in arms,” Jones said. “Just as we ask them to respect us, we need to respect them.”
Soldiers go through regular training for cultural sensitivity so they can learn consideration of other cultures and present themselves accordingly.
“If you have a question, ask,” Jones said. “The only bad question is the one not asked.”
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