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Equal opportunity for all

Joshua Bargas, 341st Missile Wing EO director, poses for a photo May 23, 2017, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The Equal Opportunity office works to support a healthy environment and maintain a trusted channel for presenting allegations of unlawful discrimination based on race, color, sex, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and sexual harassment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam)

Joshua Bargas, 341st Missile Wing EO director, poses for a photo May 23, 2017, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The Equal Opportunity office works to support a healthy environment and maintain a trusted channel for presenting allegations of unlawful discrimination based on race, color, sex, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and sexual harassment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam)

Tech. Sgt. Edwin Aumiller, 341st Missile Wing NCO in charge of EO, poses for a photo May 23, 2017, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Service members and federal employees who feel they are discriminated against can choose to submit a formal or informal complaint. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam)

Tech. Sgt. Edwin Aumiller, 341st Missile Wing NCO in charge of EO, poses for a photo May 23, 2017, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Service members and federal employees who feel they are discriminated against can choose to submit a formal or informal complaint. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Those who serve in the military come from a wide range of ethnic, religious and social backgrounds. The military relies on this diversity to bring new processes and ideas to the fight in order to enhance mission capabilities and efficiency.

The focus on abilities rather than background is also designed to create a culture where recruitment, professional development and promotions are all solely based on individual merit, fitness and capability.

According to Tech. Sgt. Edwin Aumiller, 341st Missile Wing NCO in charge of EO, the Equal Opportunity office works to support a healthy environment and maintain a trusted channel for presenting allegations of unlawful discrimination based on race, color, sex, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and sexual harassment.

“I feel discrimination toward others is counteractive to diversity,” said Aumiller. “Discrimination is what breaks down esprit de corps and it attempts to demoralize the wingman concept.”

Joshua Bargas, 341st MW EO director, said each member of the Air Force has a service to protect and defend one another from discrimination.

“We as wingmen have a responsibility to each other and ourselves to recognize unlawful discrimination and harassment,” Bargas said. “A healthy human relations climate is our ultimate goal and we have a responsibility to ensure identification, assessment and removal of any and all EO barriers.”

Service members and federal employees who feel they are discriminated against can choose from two types of EO complaints: informal and formal.

Informal complaints are not subject to any reporting deadlines, while formal complaints have a 60-day reporting deadline for service members, 45 days for civilians, and normally trigger an administrative investigation which also has set deadlines.

According to Bargas, another method is the alternative dispute resolution. The ADR is a non-EO approach to address concerns with another party to reach reconciliation and understanding. ADR is a way to handle concerns at the lowest level with confidentiality while allowing for immediate results.

“I stand by the Air Force’s zero tolerance policy,” Bargas said. “One of the best things about the Air Force is the diversity among members, and we should be using that diversity to better the Air Force.”

Bargas said he feels when discrimination occurs, it takes valuable people away from the mission, hurts morale and affects everyone involved.

“Every member is vital to reach our overall mission success,” Bargas said. “We all signed on the dotted line to serve the greatest nation on earth and if you can do your job and contribute to the mission, then it doesn’t matter what your background is.”

The base EO office is located at Building 770 and is open Monday – Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They can be reached at 731-4525.

Members seeking immediate assistance from EO are able to use the 24-hour EO hotline number at 1-888-231-4058.