|BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq, Aug. 2, 2007 — When airmen deploy to Iraq, a varied group of people live, work and eat together. The vast majority of the time, the cohabitation is peaceful. But if a human relations incident involving discrimination occurs, it's up to one noncommissioned officer to assist with the situation.
Master Sgt. John Schumann is the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing chief of Military Equal Opportunity at Balad Air Base. His job is to assist members in dealing with situations of discrimination and sexual harassment because of race, color, national origin, sex and religion, and to report to commanders the problems, practices and procedures that may adversely affect a unit.
The sergeant, deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., said his job here differs from his stateside duties.
At his home station, Schumann monitors human relations by conducting Unit Climate Assessment surveys, which cover categories such as unit cohesion, motivation and morale, supervisory support, perceived discrimination and command equal opportunity policy. UCAs are not done in the area of responsibility.
Here, because of the difficulty of being able to contact some of the geographically separated units throughout Iraq, the process must be refined. So Schumann has a number of military equal opportunity support liaisons located at some of the larger GSUs to assist him.
"As liaisons, we bridge the gap between the regular MEO duties and help to get information out to the airmen," said Master Sgt. Alexandra Hoellein, an MEO liaison and the superintendent for Personnel Support for Contingency Operations for the 507th Air Expeditionary Group at Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq.