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Reserve Equal Opportunity Office back on a mission

Full manning helps vision materialize

Master Sgt. James Briggs, center, 446th Airlift Wing Equal Opportunity Office superintendent, walks Staff Sgt. Joseph Jensen through some on-the-job training at the 446th EO Office on McChord Field. /Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle

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(446th AW PA) - After years of minimal manning and an unfinished vision, the 446th Airlift Wing Equal Opportunity Office has created a focus - to create a working environment that allows Reservists to reach their optimal abilities.

The 446th EO mission is to equip and educate Reservists on the importance of proper human relations in their work area including mediation, consultations and communication strategies. The office contains opportunities for Citizen Airmen to focus on each other's strengths, said Master Sgt. James Briggs, 446th AW EO superintendent.

"The EO office has been getting it done," said Col. Bruce Bowers Jr., 446th Airlift Wing commander. "Folks like Capt. (Barbara) McMullen (446th AW EO chief) and Sergeant Briggs are making it happen."

Briggs, who's been with the 446th AW since 1990, said in a job like his, desire can take a person a long way.

"You have to have a strong desire to overcome the challenges you will face, and there will be many," he said. "My desire is to share what I know; we all have certain gifts and talents, and if we focus on them, we can impact ourselves in a positive way. This allows us to become better at the things we do."

This desire is also what gave Briggs' the patience to discover the EO office's vision.

"I took over as superintendent in 2007, and envisioned turning the office into a more proactive part of the Reserve culture," Briggs said. "Typically, the office was reactive to issues and challenges. I wanted to change that. My thought was, a proactive office can lead with prevention, help alleviate conflict before it happens, and if it does, find win-win resolutions."

With the EO office at full strength, Briggs, who's a fulltime Facilities & Procurement supervisor for Washington state, can focus on other duties.

"Now that EO is fully staffed, I can do more ‘public relations' work for the office," he said. "Minimal manning made things very challenging and frustrating at times. But, we will accomplish great things by working together by living the principles we teach."

Briggs said this team cohesion began with a change of approach.

"The whole attitude of the office is completely different now," he said. "We are much more proactive in our work. The relationships we are fostering enable us to connect better with those people we serve."

EO's top goals, according to Briggs are continuing to promote the office's benefits, training his staff, and leaving a legacy that makes a difference in Reservists' lives.

Reservist participation in the wing Climate Assessment Survey is another big target for the office, according to the commander.

"They are my champions for the survey," Bowers said. "It's important because Airmen can state any concerns that are on their minds, and I will go through every single one of them to make sure my Reservists are taken care of."

Even with the survey being distributed to all 2,100-plus wing personnel, Briggs said, one third of Airmen have a positive image of his office; another third has a negative view, and the last third don't know about it. However, Briggs and the EO staff have a plan to bring a positive awareness to the office.

"Through proactive contact, we need to have a presence in the wing to get our message out," he said. "We have to shake the bushes. I facilitate Stephen Covey's, ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People' program, squadron commanders call training, and the EO portion of the newcomers' program. I also teach a human relations and first duty station class once a quarter as a benefit to wing Reservists."

After handling the climate survey and building their staff to 100 percent strength, Bowers gave the EO staff the task of ensuring Citizen Airmen support during the upcoming operational readiness exercise and operational readiness inspection.

"McMullen and Briggs have been working extremely hard with the health and needs of our Airmen in mind," Bowers said. "With the ORE and ORI coming up, fulfilling those needs will be more important than ever. I'm turning to EO to get it done."

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