Merging with civilian side
The Vance MEO office deals primarily with military issues, but as of Jan. 1 it will merge with the civilian equal employment opportunity office, thus becoming a single location to handle both military and civilian claims and issues.
“The biggest difference in the past has been civilian issues are based on the law, while ours are based on policy and the law,” Parker said. “Even though we’re merging, we’re going to have to understand civilian rules are different than ours, but we’re all going to have a total understanding of both sides of the house, so it’s going to allow us to move forward.”
Vital part of the program
Part of the Vance MEO’s mission is its Cultural Committee, which works to promote understanding by exposing airmen to a variety of cultures and customs.
“Our Cultural Committee expresses diversity through op-portunities to learn about other folks’ cultures, other folks’ background,” Parker said. “I think the Cultural Committee is a very important part of our program for the mere fact a lot of folks are kind of hesitant to talk about race.”
Some perceptions of discrimination, Parker said, can stem from a lack of understanding about different cultures.
“A lot of times folks don’t understand other folks’ backgrounds and why they think a certain way or do things a certain way,” he said. “A lot of times the communications barriers we have come from a lack of understanding.”
The Vance Cultural Committee conducts activities not only on base but in the community, as well. Activities are conducted celebrating different cultures, and a reading program is held featuring books about a particular heritage.
“It’s a chance for the military to go out and help the community, and we’re also spreading the celebration of different heritages,” Greig said.
Members of the Vance MEO office enjoy their jobs, although they wish they didn’t have them.
“It’s unfortunate you have to have any programs of this nature,” Parker said. “I think the military does a very good job of making the field as level as possible, making sure folks get the training to understand that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”