By Mr. John Ciccarelli (Regional Health Command Pacific)
It was April Fools’ Day when Sgt. 1st Class Brian Wharton received news he couldn’t believe. Through fragmented texts exchanged during a flight across the Pacific Ocean, Wharton discovered that he had been named the Equal Opportunity Advisor (EOA) of the Year for U.S. Army Medical Command.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘No way!'” he said. “It wasn’t until I landed that I received the confirmation letter in my e-mail.”
Wharton assumed duties as an EOA after graduating from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute in 2017. Assigned to Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC), he immersed himself in building relationships with the staff of more than 4,500 Soldiers and civilians, which earned him widespread admiration and gratitude.
“His drive and determination as EOA have established a positive climate for the command and adherence to higher standards of equality through awareness initiatives, open and focused discussions, and providing sound advice to the commander and staff members,” said Col. Mary V. Krueger, Commander of TAMC.
The EO program is the Army’s way of validating the values we stand for in a visible way, Wharton said.
“Embracing our differences, acknowledging our histories, and showing respect for the plethora of people that make up our military forces shows our Soldiers that we are not separate entities but rather one and the same,” added Wharton.
Wharton has been busy planning, coordinating and executing observances across the Army. The Army Hawaii EO office selected Tripler to lead eight observances in fiscal year 2018, setting the standard for other units.
“As the world is evolving, so are we as individuals,” Wharton said. “We must continue to create a safe place for individuals to talk about differences and create solutions to work well as a multidisciplinary team from various backgrounds. Our ability to do this is what makes us great.”
Wharton was born and raised in Detroit. He enlisted in the Army in 2003 and attended basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and advanced individual training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he became an Army healthcare specialist.
Wharton said it is important to embrace each opportunity to further the platform of EO to Soldiers, civilian counterparts and the communities in which we serve.
“Creating partnerships that haven’t been created before and soliciting assistance from outside organizations will make for a larger impact and lasting changes throughout the world,” said Wharton.