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MEO, EEO merger won't affect system

Equal Opportunity shield

Equal Opportunity shield

VANDENBERG AFB, Calif. -- The Military Equal Opportunity and Equal Employment Opportunity offices here merged Jan. 1 as part of the Program Budget Decision 720 initiative. 

Just as across the rest of the Air Force, the two offices are now collectively known as Equal Opportunity; however, little has changed beyond the name. 

"While there's a merger of the two, there haven't been any changes as far as process and guidance," said Master Sgt. Michael Brown, EO superintendent here. "The big change is that a military person may handle a civilian and vice versa." 

Although public law is behind the civilian claims and Air Force policy is behind military claims, both military and civilians working in the EO office have the training and expertise to handle both sides. 

"Even though we are merged, we're two separate processes," said Alinda Nelson, EO director here. "But we'll both be able to do those processes. That's the good thing." 

One difference in processes is that civilians have total confidentiality while military members have limited confidentiality in regards to making a claim. The merger will not affect these established laws and policies, no matter who handles the claim. 

"(A civilian) may come in expecting that it will solely be a civilian person handling their concern, but now it could be a military person that may address it," Sergeant Brown said. "But they shouldn't let that worry them. Their anonymity will still be respected." 

Though the merger isn't changing much in the way EO works, it does benefit civilians and military members by ensuring that there is an office watching out for them. 

"There's going to be an agency here - and often times that's what individuals need to know," Sergeant Brown said. "They need to know that when they do have a grievance, there's an agency here with the wealth of experience to address those concerns." 

People should remember that even though there is an office here in which they can bring up grievances, real change begins with the individual. 

"We always encourage individuals to communicate and realize that we work in a diverse environment," Sergeant Brown said. "As such, respect and awareness of another individual's background can go a long way." 

Vandenberg's Equal Opportunity office is now located in Bldg. 10525, Suite 4. It is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. During duty hours, customers can call 606-8780 or 606-0370. After duty hours, customers can call 588-7773.