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Official portrait of Tech. Sgt. Frances Rodgers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Official portrait of Tech. Sgt. Frances Rodgers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- When you see me, you will see a 6-foot individual with an extremely focused demeanor. My pride in serving this great nation is exemplified in the caliber of my work on behalf of the Equal Opportunity (EO) office. But what is it that I do for Dover Air Force Base?

The EO mission is a unique mission, and my teammates fight an unseen fight – an intolerable fight.

The EO purview is clear: It is against Air Force policy for any Airman, military or civilian, to unlawfully discriminate against, harass, intimidate or threaten another Airman on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, reprisal or genetic information. As such, the essence of EO operations is addressing allegations that our values and policy are not being upheld.

As the daughter of two amazing law enforcement (retired) parents, my upbringing was regimented yet loving. My father was an Army officer before his transition into the civilian sector. To those who did not know my daddy, he appeared to have a serious, no-nonsense bearing … and also stood at an imposing six-five. My daddy was very matter-of-fact: not the type that required a drawn-out dissertation in regards to a matter, just your point. To his children, he was the man that had unlimited time for all three of us. I share this, because I have adopted a lot of his characteristics, naturally. 

While serving in the Air Force, I’ve been told that I appear unapproachable, that I need to smile more and have been accused of being angry on the basis of my looks. Nonetheless, those that know me, Frances, know that am I nothing of the kind. I enjoy taking time out of my day to speak with anyone.

Now, why did I share that?

My mom has a saying: “Do not allow things to roll down the highway of ignorance.” Oftentimes, we view others from our level of understanding. Since many of our backgrounds and experiences differ, our viewpoints vary as well. That person that seems unapproachable or different may be the same person to give you a shoulder when life happens.

EO incidents happen for a reason, and they create opportunities – opportunities for people to learn from one another. The driving force behind many of the complaints that I have had the unfortunate pleasure to process is lack of communication.

Communication will allow you to resolve concerns at the lowest level. Effective communication can resolve workplace disputes, personality conflicts and perceptions. The person that seems problematic may need a new challenge that provides him/her with fresh determination. Effective communication will open the door to life-changing dialogue.

EO mission success hinges on going to the people, and our objective is to inform the organizations we visit. As EO professionals, we need to see you, and you need to see us: your team. EO professionals listen to more than what’s being said; we are also listening for what’s not being said.

During our routine visits to your organization, share your views, thoughts and concerns. Opposing views and experiences will not be met with contemptuous disregard but welcomed as teachable moments. The old adage that “communication is key” certainly holds true.

The EO office is more than a complaint office; we are a resolution team. Please know, if help is needed to guide a conversation, we are here. If there is a topic that you want to learn about or would like our team to offer, reach out. As I close, anytime you see me out and about, feel free to talk with me. We are here for you.