It was a tense a back and forth. A principal’s reputation was on the line. The Equal Employment Opportunity counselor wanted to know what led to the teacher’s termination. Had the principal discriminated against; even wrongfully fired a teacher? The world will never know. The whole thing was staged.
Department of the Army civilians from all over the country attended the EEO Collateral Duty Counselor training at Fort Stewart’s SFC Paul R. Smith Army Education Center last week.
The Fort Stewart EEO hosted the course which included participants from Fort Stewart, Red Stone Arsenal, Alabama, and Fort Carson, Colorado.
Serving as an EEO collateral duty counselor is a professional development opportunity for civilians, but also a means to meet the Army’s need to have more trained EEO counselors to offset the mission and provide support at the lowest level.
“It’s saving the Army a lot money,” said Tora Henry, EEO manager and AMC Office of Diversity and Leadership deputy director. “The counselors are very important because they are laying the foundation for everything after that informal process, so their jobs are very important in terms of building an EEO case. We are depending on them to be solid and to create a solid foundation for the EEO specialist to build on.”
Army Regulation 690-12, the regulation governing the EEO program, states it is, “the policy of the DA to provide EEO… to prohibit discrimination in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, reprisal, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a parent, or other impermissible basis, and to promote the full realization of EEO through a continuing diversity and inclusion program.
One way to get a better understanding is to sign up for the EEO Collateral Duty Counselors Course.
“This course is a wonderful way to learn what EEO truly is,” aid Fort Stewart EEO Manager Harsheen Eady. “We are kind of like the Switzerland of Fort Stewart. When individuals come to our office, we don’t advocate for any group or any party. We just provide them information so they can make an informed decision.”
Those who complete the Collateral Duty Counselor Course will become certified EEO Counselors.
“As a civilian who is coming to be a counselor, first of all you’re getting additional experience and you’re actually tapping into an area that is helpful to the EEO,” Henry said. “What it also does, is allows individuals to contribute to the EEO mission in terms of facilitating a resolution.”
Eady noted that as the EEO officer it is his job to determine the need for support and ensure that the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield EEO is equipped to meet its regulatory requirements and timelines. He identified the need for additional counselors by looking at the number of counselors and specialists he had available in comparison to the number of commands that his office supports.
“In order for us to fulfill our mission, I need to have more collateral duty counselors,” he said. “Looking at the needs and doing a needs assessment, I determined that if we had more than five complaints in a month we wouldn’t be able to sustain effectively.”
The importance of the EEO program can be felt through the passion exhibited by the instructors who spent a week here to impart their knowledge and experience. Henry stated that she wants people to understand how serious EEO is and that it is necessary. She would like people to know that EEO should not be feared, but rather embraced.
“If we are all treating each other with dignity and respect, eventually I would hope that we are out of a job at some point in time,” she said. “You’re not going to need counselors. You’re not going to need EEO because we are doing our part at humans and as citizens. I want people to know that this is a very important mission, but it’s only important because it’s required and one day we may not even need it anymore.”
To learn more about EEO Collateral Duty Counselor training, call 767-4072.