CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – The Marine Corps strives to provide equal opportunities for those who earn the title of Marine. It relies on unit leadership and the education of Marines to accomplish this mission.
More than 35 Marines and sailors are currently attending the Equal Opportunity Representative Course aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. The five-day course, which began June 24, 2013, will qualify service members as equal opportunity representatives in order to manage their commander’s EO program.
The class provides EOR training for all Marine Corps units west of the Mississippi River, including fleet Marine Corps forces and recruiting stations. To meet the Marine Corps order, P5354.1D, the service members must complete the 40-hour class curriculum in order to become qualified and effective EORs.
“The Marine Corps demands that we have equal opportunity representatives for every unit,” said Gunnery Sgt. Cassius B. Cardio, equal opportunity advisor, 1st Marine Logistics Group. “The equal opportunity program is geared toward assisting commanders in providing an effective and cohesive unit able to accomplish the mission. It ensures Marines and sailors are evaluated based on their fitness, merits and capabilities instead of race, gender or sexuality.”
The course is broken down into four key phases. During phase one, students are taught the Marine Corps policy on EO. Phase two includes the study of individual and group behavior. Phase three teaches the aspects of discrimination and phase four provides the skills and information to fulfill the EOR billet.
An overarching theme throughout the course is leadership and emphasizes that having a fair workplace is only possible with an active command.
“Equal opportunity is leadership,” said Cardio, a native of Teaneck, N.J. “Not all leadership issues are EO issues, however all EO issues are leadership issues.”
Some of the students came from afar to attend the course so they can fill this important role in their units. With the long road behind them, they are prepared to learn.
“I’m here to learn about the equal opportunity program and to learn how to institute it at my unit as the equal opportunity representative,” said Staff Sgt. Justin A. Furlong, administration chief, Recruiting Station Twin Cities, 9th Marine Corps District.
“We learn how to teach annual EO training to Marines so they can understand their equal opportunity rights under the program. So far, I’ve learned the proper channels for filing complaints and the resolution systems. I think it’s important for small units to have someone to go to if they feel they are being discriminated against. It provides an advocate at that level,” added the Lansing, Mich., native.
After the course is completed, the Marines and sailors will return to their respective units. They will be fully qualified as equal opportunity representatives and capable of providing a fair work environment within their command, accomplishing the Marine Corps’ mission.