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MEO: Dealing with discrimination

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The 1960's and 1970's were times of great change in the United States. The Civil Rights movement and the Feminist movement made apparent discriminatory practices that plagued the country and members of the military.

The Air Force recognized that discrimination and sexual harassment severely impair a unit's readiness, camaraderie and discipline - all staples of military structure.
Identification of this need opened up a new military career field called Race Relations, later changed to Military Equal Opportunity. MEO, which stretches across all branches of the military, is trained to deal with discrimination situations of any variety.

McConnell's MEO office's mission is to educate wing members on EO issues, clarify allegations of unlawful discrimination and actively monitor the human relations climate of McConnell, according to Master Sgt. Keith Johnson, MEO superintendent.

Active-duty Airmen, their family members and retired military members can find assistance and education in the MEO office, but are encouraged to work through their chain-of-command if at all possible.

Civilians on base have the same rights as active duty and dependents but instead they are processed through Equal Employment Opportunity, a branch of MEO that consists of trained civilian counselors.

"Anyone can use our services; however, complaint processing is the only aspect of our job that must be separated," said Michelene Tucker, MEO, EEO and Alternate Dispute Resolution program manager. "The EEO program exists to maintain a continuing affirmative program to promote equal opportunity and to identify and eliminate discriminatory practices and policies. Our role is to educate individuals on the EO program and to provide for the prompt, fair and impartial processing of discrimination complaints."

And educate the base they do. Mandatory MEO training is included in the First Duty Station Orientation, Newcomers Orientation, Key Personnel Briefings and commander's calls.

When necessary, the MEO office also conducts climate assessments and personnel stress indicators to detect stress factors that may impact the mission.
Anyone who would like to discuss an MEO of EEO issue or would like to visit the MEO library, which contains informational materials, should call 759-3310 or visit Bldg. 750 Ste. 201.