Equal opportunity director supports Airmen speaking up

  • Published
  • By Airman Sadie Colbert
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Discrimination has been a problem worldwide for centuries, but the Air Force is doing its part to maintain a healthy and professional environment for everyone.

"There is no room in our family for sexual assault, discrimination, or harassment - any unprofessional behavior is unacceptable," said Col. Gentry Boswell, 28th Bomb Wing commander.

When a problem arises at Ellsworth, Airmen can go to the 28th BW Equal Opportunity office to discuss issues and steps they can take toward finding real solutions.

The purpose of EO is to detect and eliminate unlawful discrimination, sexual harassment, and barriers that keep individuals from being treated with dignity and respect in the work place.

Additionally, it covers the human relations climate of the installation and the protective categories derived from Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act. For military members, their families and civilian employees, these include race, sex, color, and national origin.

When describing the role of the EO office in relation to Ellsworth's mission, Donald Bell, 28th BW EO director, who retired in 2005 after 21 years of military service, said that it is the responsibility of not only their staff, but also anyone who wears the uniform, to make sure everyone gets treated fairly and without prejudice.

"If you have to take a stand against your fellow Airmen, that's simply what you have to do," Bell said. "If you don't want to take that stand, you contact someone in the chain of command. If they don't want to do it, you contact us and we'll do it for you."

When coming into the EO office, everyone from all ranks and levels should be comfortable talking to EO members, he added. They are there to assist individuals if they feel like they are a victim of unlawful discrimination or harassment.

Bell stressed that there is simply no room for those types of behaviors.

"To feel like you have the right to treat someone differently or as though they don't belong doesn't make sense to me," Bell said. "There's no place for it."

The EO office has stated that any unlawful discrimination is reason enough to pay a visit to their facility. There are two different types of complaints that Airmen can file: formal and informal.

An informal complaint includes the complainant electing someone in the chain of command to investigate unlawful discrimination or sexual harassment.

A formal complaint is where the member elects an EO staff member to look into the matter. Instead of an investigation, a clarification occurs, which deals with just the facts of an incident. The EO staff is looking for 51 percent clarification that an incident did in fact occur, Bell explained.

To make an EO complaint, Airmen can reach staff members by emailing their organizational inbox, visiting the office or calling (605) 385-1752.