Equal Opportunity represents “one team, one fight”, brings home 5th award Published Sept. 25, 2017 By Airman Nicolas Z. Erwin 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- The United States Declaration of Independence’s preamble starts with “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” These words have been trusted, followed and defended to some people’s last breath. They define the basic view of the United States: equality for all. Not only abiding by the preamble, but also the core values of the Air Force, has helped the 28th Bomb Wing Equal Opportunity office earn recognition at the Air Force and major command level. The team was recently presented the 2016 Col. L. Joseph Brown award by Col. Bradley Cochran, the vice commander of the 28th Bomb Wing, during the wing standup meeting, Sept. 14. This is the fourth consecutive time the EO office has received the award, and the fifth time overall. The award, which is named after a large contributor to EO, is for exceptional performance by an equal opportunity office in three different categories: mission accomplishment and innovation, leadership and management, and customer focus. “It’s more than just an award to us,” said Tech. Sgt. Janay Stokes, the noncommissioned officer in charge of EO assigned to the 28th BW. “Our overall goal is to ensure that everybody is homogenous when working together. We want to make sure everybody can go to work and be able to do their job without any type of barriers.” Equal opportunity is not only an Air Force career, it is a nationwide mentality that small businesses, corporations and other ventures follow. “Equal opportunity is a process that individuals, not only in this office, detect and eliminate different barriers that lead to unlawful discrimination,” said Donald Bell, the director of EO assigned to the 28th BW. “It means that you are attempting to create an environment where individuals are judged simply on merit, individual fitness, and their capabilities.” With this award, the Ellsworth team is recognized for exhibiting the career field’s creed: one team, one fight. “What Col. L Joseph Brown wanted to see was people not only taking the skills and knowledge they get from their [training] and use it at their installation, but primarily taking the same skills and experience and use [them] outside the installation,” Bell said. He went on to explain that the Ellsworth office excels at community engagement and relationships. They have given classes and courses to county correctional facilities, sheriff departments and schools. All of these things were not expected of their career, but their office went the extra mile to provide training for the community. The service members with EO have cross-trained into the career field. This requires them to not only go through technical training, but also have the capacity to step outside of their own views. “I honestly believe since being here I have not only grown to be a better EO advisor but also to be a better Airman,” Stokes said. Stokes went on to say EO focuses on building communication and understanding others as individuals and as a collective. She said the first place to build these skills is inside one’s own office. The preamble of the Declaration of Independence’s first sentence ends with “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” With four consecutive awards, the 28th Bomb Wing Equal Opportunity office enforces these words and truly showcases the best that the military has.