Moody EO educates, strives to end adversity

  • Published
  • By Airman Dillian Bamman
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
In today's Air Force comprised of many different races, ethnicities and religions, a joke can mean something small to one and devastate another.

Airmen can see an inappropriate joke, comment or action as harmless. However, the blame may not be solely on the person, but rather from an ethical misunderstanding.

Adjusting to new environments can provide unique challenges to most, but Moody's equal opportunity office tackles this adversity through official complaints and educating the base populace on understanding diversity.

"We do our best to be visible and interactive to the members of the base," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt Renee Gilliam, 23d Wing NCO in charge of human relations education. "We ensure these offices and squadrons' climates are free from anything unwanted.

"We're all from different backgrounds [in the Air Force]," she added. "So being cognizant of the fact we all were raised in different settings is important to lowering some of the confusion."

The EO team's primary mission is to create a base-wide environment free from sexual harassment and unlawful discrimination. However, sexual harassment is the main source of complaints.

"The biggest thing we've been seeing lately is complaints due to [sexual text messages]," said Gilliam. "Some think that it's acceptable to send inappropriate photos to others, but it's serious to the person offended, and we will take action against it."

Moody's EO team has dealt with only one official sexual harassment complaint in the past quarter, and they feel that educating the base on understanding these sensitive topics helps the fight against adversity.

"Learning about other people's culture can help in getting where people come from," said Tech. Sgt. Myisha Marks, 23d Wing NCO in charge of EO. "There are observances for many different religions and origins every month, so participation could possibly mean the difference."

In addition to EO counselors educating through observances, such as a recent Holocaust Remembrance Day observance, they also teach at the First Term Airman Center.

"I attended their class when I was in FTAC and I learned a lot," said Airman 1st Class Mary Amstead, 23d Wing adverse actions paralegal. "Being in a situation where you're sexually harassed by a co-worker can be scary, but I know I have the security of where to go."

A mistaken comment or action could possibly hurt a person, but an apology could potentially be the solution to the problem.

"Mistakes do happen and we get that," said Gilliam. "And if you realize it, just be up front and apologize."

Even though the EO office is always willing to help someone in need, sometimes all it takes is confronting the offender with the situation.

"If you feel comfortable doing it, go ahead and speak up to the person," said Tech. Sgt. Michelle Luckett, 23d Wing NCO in charge of EO complaints. "If they make an inappropriate joke and you shrug it off, they'll think it doesn't bother you.

"Also, your leadership plays a big role in cutting down on the harassment by taking care of the situations at the lowest levels," she added. "Supervisors are always a good venue to communicate your situation. They should be able to handle what's going on, but if it's still not resolved, anybody is more than welcome to speak with us."

For more information please call the EO office at 229-257-4730.