Former drill sergeant takes equal opportunity guidance to heart
August 9, 2009
- Career Soldier dedicated to helping Soldiers 24/7
- Former 82nd Airborne Division infantryman now serving as Equal Opportunity advisor in Korea
- Lessons learned as a Drill Sergeant have helped him to understand Soldiers better
HUMPHREYS GARRISON, Republic of Korea -- Soldiers may face diverse problems while in the Army and sometimes it's not easy for them to solve those problems on their own. Fortunately, there are people and resources available to help Soldiers through difficult times.
One of the people who can help is Master Sgt.Mark T. Harris, the Equal Opportunity Advisor for 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade and Area III. Harris can help you Soldiers with problems, no matter what they are.
As the EO advisor, Harris's job is to ensure that no one installation feels any kind of discrimination based on their race, sex, age, or national origin. Or, if they feel they have been discriminated against, he can help them resolve the issue. Harris constantly talks with Soldiers and other Army members to help them deal with the issues that might interfere with their job performance.
But, in fact, it has not been that long since he started to work as an EO advisor.
Harris was a senior drill sergeant and first sergeant of a Basic Combat Training Company at Fort Jackson, S. C. before he became an EO professional.
"Becoming a drill sergeant was instrumental for me to understand my Soldiers better," Harris said. "I wanted to help them adjust better to the Army and I wanted it to be first hand."
Consequently, his concern for the well-being of Soldiers expanded to the whole Army. He decided to study mediation in the EO training course, so he "could continue to serve not only Soldiers, but everyone in the Army while still doing (his) job as an NCO.
"We make up one of the most diverse organizations on earth. So it is very important to recognize different geographical and cultural backgrounds of each one of us. It's not easy for anyone, but we choose not to relinquish our Army values," Harris said.
Harris talks with Soldiers who come to his office and advises commanders and senior NCOs of EO issues. He works alone, but he thinks he is "responsible for every Soldier in this installation." And his faith to be there for every Army member leads him to his excellence.
"I'm available 24/7, seven days a week, whenever they want to talk with me. I also take care of their real life problems even they are not related to the EO issue," Harris said. He also gives lectures and runs several EO classes. But he is "still happy to be here," for his fellow troops.
"I think my labor and sweat paid off for me," Harris said.
After 22 years of service, from an infantryman to an EO advisor for the garrison, he still finds himself motivated and having fun. And he will continue to do his best and always be there for everyone in the Army.