ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Windows of opportunity are in no short supply for Soldiers and Department of Defense Civilian employees seeking a clearer view and understanding of what the Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) Equal Opportunity (EO) program has done and will continue to do for them.

This commitment is largely due to the APG leadership's vigorous efforts aimed at ensuring members of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) community have access to those resources and solutions that effectively guard against and prohibit discrimination of any kind.

The recent arrival of Installation Equal Opportunity Program Manager, Sgt. 1st Class Anthony C. Toolin, is just one example of the command's ongoing efforts to provide the talent and expertise needed to maintain a viable and effective EO program that maximizes human potential and ensures fair treatment for all persons.

According to Tracy Marshall, SHARP APG Program Manager, Sgt. 1st Class Toolin will be a tremendous asset to the program. "The skills and expertise that he brings to the C4ISR community will ensure that our EO and SHARP efforts are not only up to date, but are clearly aligned with DOD policy and our Army Core Values," said Marshall.
Having recently returned from a deployment in Kuwait, Sgt. 1st Class Toolin said he's glad to be on the APG-SHARP team.

"I will be assisting the Commanding General in enhancing the Equal Opportunity Program across the installation so as to provide exceptional education, training, and support in various ethnic and or special observances," Toolin said. "In addition to providing commanders with regulatory guidance and current policy changes, I'm also here to assist all Soldiers with alternative dispute resolution through mediation. The SHARP Resource Center is also available to assist with filing formal or informal EO complaints, and be a change agent for the installation."

Army officials say different values and attitudes acquired before entering the military do not automatically disappear or change because someone puts on a uniform. These differences can lead to the misunderstanding, frustration, and suspicion of others. Such feelings, they add, can create serious leadership problems in any organization. The chain of command's challenge, they say, is to provide effective leadership that promotes a command climate that cultivates equal opportunity, and enhances unit cohesion and mission accomplishment.

In advance of Toolin's arrival, Marshall was instrumental in ensuring EO services were not interrupted or impeded.

"Prior to Sgt. 1st Class Toolin's arrival, I wore both hats, overseeing my duties as the Installation SHARP Program Manager, and that of Equal Opportunity Program Manager," she said. "The challenges were there, of course. However, a large degree of thanks rightfully goes to Sgt. 1st Class April L. Marinakes, Equal Opportunity Manager, 20th CBRNE, Edgewood, who stepped in and assumed oversight of the installation EO program manager duties. Serving as the Senior Equal Opportunity Advisor (EOA) for the Senior Mission Command and Aberdeen Proving Ground, her invaluable experience and contribution played a significant role in ensuring the CECOM-APG community was able to continue to receive quality care and assistance."

Asked just how important he feels EO is the command mission and goals, Toolin said, "Equal opportunity is a cornerstone to mission readiness. It boils down to dignity and respect. Ensuring fair treatment for all based solely on merit, fitness, and capability. This reinforces the EO philosophy of fairness, justice, and equality. When soldiers are placed in a sustaining and positive EO climate within their command, they can truly focus on the mission and not discrimination." Referring to some of the myths people tend to have about EO, Toolin added, "People often misunderstand what discrimination is. A lot of times, mediation is what is really needed to assist in the communication between the command and the complainant."

Toolin not only credits his training and experience in the equal opportunity field for his ability to meet its demands and challenges. He also turns to another invaluable source -- one that just keeps on giving. Said Toolin, "My family has been vitally important to my military service career. They are supportive and my biggest fans. They push me every day to be better than the day before."