The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

November 18, 2007

Vance MEO office works to eliminate discrimination, harrassment, to spread understanding

The primary colors of the U.S. Air Force are dress blue, the camouflage of Battle Dress Uniforms and the green of flight suits.

But the people wearing those uniforms are every color of the rainbow. According to Air Force Personnel Center’s latest dem-ographics report, 14.7 percent of AF personnel are black, 9.3 percent are Hispanic and 2.41 percent are Asian.

The generic term for Air Force personnel is airmen, but 19.58 percent of the force are women.

The Air Force is a diverse force, with members of both sexes and every race and religious affiliation.

‘Check and balance’

Helping keep this diverse collection of individuals working harmoniously toward the same goal is the mission of the Military Equal Opportunity office.

MEO offices work to ensure airmen will not face unlawful discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion or sex. Sexual harassment is another MEO target.

At Vance Air Force Base, the MEO office does its job so well it recently was named outstanding Military Equal Opportunity office in Air Education and Training Command for the third year in a row.

“Our job is to make sure if they (airmen) perceive they have been discriminated against, we’re the check and balance,” said Master Sgt. Spencer Parker, superintendent of the Vance MEO office. Parker recently was honored as AETC outstanding MEO individual for the second time.

Overall, Parker said, Vance ‘s MEO office doesn’t deal with many complaints.

“Luckily for us we haven’t had a lot of issues,” he said. “Most of the things that do come up are pretty small, communication breakdowns. Sometimes it’s just folks not being professional.”

‘A lot of proactive measures’

Vance MEO personnel spend much of their time conducting training sessions throughout the base, trying to promote an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding, as well as keeping service members current on Air Force regulations regarding discrimination and sexual harassment.

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