Fort Buchanan, PR- Soldiers and civilians from different units in the Continental United States (CONUS) and Puerto Rico, gathered to attend an Equal Opportunity Leaders Course at the 1st Mission Support Command (1st MSC), US Army Reserve-Puerto Rico headquarters, Fort Buchanan, PR, June 23-29.

The training was coordinated by Mr. Nestor Ramos, Lt. Col. Javier Hernandez and Sgt. 1st Class Maricela Barberi, members of the 1st MSC Equal Opportunity team.

"The essence of the Equal Opportunity (EO) program is to ensure every service member is treated with dignity and respect. During this course, we provide the tools that our troops and civilians can use to manage conflicts at the lowest level of their units," said Hernandez, who is the EO Program manager at the largest US Army Reserve Command of the Caribbean.

"We are making history with this training, because it is the first time we open it to Soldiers and civilians from across the Army Reserve," added Hernandez.

Angela D. Patterson is one of the visiting instructors who came to Puerto Rico from the Military Intelligence Readiness Command (MIRC) at Fort Belvoir, VA.

"This is an awesome integration and collaboration effort with CONUS students, who come here to this environment and culture to be certified as EO leaders. It is also a challenge for some of the visiting instructors because some of the visual aids or clips that we bring from the states may not work here because the culture is different," said Patterson referring to the Hispanic culture of Puerto Ricans.

Capt. Angela Monday, a Military Intelligence Officer from the MIRC United States Central Command Detachment in San Antonio Texas, believes that Puerto Rico is the perfect environment to conduct EO training.

"I am excited that we have the opportunity to attend this course in Puerto Rico, because now I am in a class of extremely diverse people. It is a great learning environment because we have to practice the diversity here in the classroom," said Monday.

Out of the 45 students attending the course, approximately 30 percent traveled from CONUS. The course also had the collaboration from instructors traveling from the United States Army Reserve Command, NC, the 200th Military Police Command in Fort Meade,Va. and the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Ill., among others.

Some of the topics covered by the course included the roles of an equal opportunity leader, the socialization process, the values, attitudes and behaviors, among many others subjects.

The training effectively implemented the small group technique along with practical exercises to maximize the learning experience.

Equal Opportunity is paramaount in the Armed Forces as it relates directly to readiness. According with Army Regulation 600-20, the EO Program formulates, directs, and sustains a comprehensive effort to maximize human potential and to ensure fair treatment for all persons based solely on merit, fitness, and capability in support of readiness.