2007, Yokota Air Base (AB), Japan. I had an incident where a host-nation maintenance worker escorted by a female Airman entered my dorm room while I was asleep and continued to enter even after I told them to wait. (See Testimonials page for full description.) When I brought this to the attention of my First Sergeant, his response was, "If you want privacy, move off base!" So I tried to file a complaint with the Equal Opportunity office. They stated the housing policies are “legal discrimination, and there is nothing we can do about it.”
2014, Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. I brought up this topic during the Air Force Inspection System (AFIS) survey. My comments focused on the disparities in housing and other financial entitlements.
2015, Little Rock AFB. I asked the Equal Opportunity office about the housing discrimination issue. They said they can only address unlawful discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. I asked if they would take a report on familial status discrimination. The answer was no.
April, 2016, Travis AFB, California. The 18th Air Force Commander and Command Chief held an “all call” at the base theater. The topic was about treating all Airmen with equality and dignity, so when the floor was opened for questions, I felt compelled to speak up. I mentioned the income difference based on dependent status was over $110,000 ($140,000 after adjusting for inflation) and pointed out that it’s a “colossal punishment for living a lifestyle (being single without kids) that is neither illegal nor immoral.” In his reply, Lieutenant General Cox said, “I’m not sure I would call it discrimination.” General, if a six-figure income gap isn’t discrimination, then what is?
May, 2016, Travis AFB. Even though I had no intention of living on-base, I paid a visit to the Housing office to see what my options would be. I was told I was not eligible to live in family housing. In October, a conversation at work revealed that there was an enlisted member without dependents living in family housing. So I went back to Housing to ask again. This time they explained that members without dependents are only eligible to live in family housing if the occupancy rate falls below 95%, and that only applies to the “flats” (the less desirable housing). The newer, nicer houses are off-limits to members without dependents. In addition, they explained that members without dependents receive lower priority on the wait list. I asked them if they were aware that such policies are illegal because they discriminate based on familial status, which is prohibited by the Fair Housing Act. They claimed it was not illegal, but when pressed, they referred to Air Force Instructions (AFIs), not the law. AFIs are supposed to be consistent with and implement the law, but that is not the case with regard to familial status.
May, 2016, Travis AFB. I visited the Equal Opportunity office. Like at previous bases, the initial response was that this topic is outside their purview. However, the Sergeant I spoke to said he would mention it to his officer counterpart and let me know. They later agreed to take a report, which I submitted in November, 2016. Other than to acknowledge receiving the report, I did not received any feedback.
May, 2016, Travis AFB. I visited the base Legal office. Once I explained the issue, the counselor advised me that the Legal office’s job is to defend the position of the Air Force, and that I would be better off talking to the Area Defense Counsel (ADC). I went to the ADC. Since I didn’t have an appointment and a counselor was not available, I left a draft copy of the report. I was told they would get in touch with me, but I never received a response. I returned to the ADC in August and spoke to a Captain who said this was more of an “ethics” issue, which was not really in her lane. She made the following recommendations:
look into the DoD Joint Ethics Regulation
search e-Pubs and DoD websites for “ethics”, “political activities”, “advocacy”, and “lobbying”
don’t use rank/official email address on the cover of the report.
In hindsight, her recommendations appear to be based on the assumption that this is a “political activity”. That is not the case. I am not trying to lobby anyone to change the law… The law already exists. I am merely pointing out that there is a discrepancy between our housing regulations and a law passed by Congress. I am simply highlighting a problem that can and should be elevated by the chain of command and corrected at the DoD level. This effort has no ties to a political party or activity. Furthermore, according to the 621st Contingency Response Wing Commander’s Equal Opportunity policy letter, supervisors are expected to take a proactive stance to eliminate unlawful discrimination. So not only is this effort not a political activity, it is an official duty being carried out in accordance with command guidance.
September, 2016, Travis AFB.
I provided the following comments on the unit climate survey:
There is a form of discrimination not currently addressed by the DoD Equal Opportunity program... discrimination based on familial status. Due to differences in BAH, Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), & Family Separation Allowance (FSA), members without dependents receive $5K less per year than peers. They are also denied equal housing, which violates the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Sec 804 [42 U.S.C. 3604]: "It shall be unlawful~ to refuse to negotiate for the~ rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of~ familial status (or) to discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of~ rental of a dwelling~ because of~ familial status."
In addition to the survey, I sent the following email to firstname.lastname@example.org:
Directorate of Research, Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute,
I just finished taking my command climate survey with access code 1691495QTMY22. I request that future surveys include questions about discrimination based on familial status. This is a form of discrimination not currently addressed by the DoD's Equal Opportunity program. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT legal. Policies make it impossible for members without dependents to live in on-base "family" housing. That violates Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (a.k.a. Fair Housing Act).
November, 2016, Travis AFB. I met with the base Inspector General (IG) Officer in Charge (OIC). After we discussed the topic, he explained that the issue was above the Wing Commander’s authority, so all the IG could do was provide an assist (i.e. refer me to other agencies) and create a case in the Automated Case Tracking System (ACTS), to which he uploaded my documents. ACTS can be accessed by Congress and other agencies. The case number for this issue is 2016-21039. (Those files are an earlier version of the information on this website.) -- I don't buy the argument that this was "all they could do". The IG has its own chain of command all the way up to the DoD level. They could (and should) have elevated the issue up their chain.
November 2016, Travis AFB. Major General Bence, Commander of the Expeditionary Center, was paying a visit, and members were encouraged to think of topics that should be brought to his attention. I knew I wanted to bring this topic up again, but wasn’t sure of the best way to go about it. After talking with my acting Squadron Commander (the actual Commander was deployed), I decided to build a binder addressing the topic rather than asking him about it in a public venue. I actually built four binders, one each for the Squadron, Group, Wing, and Expeditionary Center Commanders. Of course, each level of command needed time to review them, so the General did not receive a copy before he left. In mid-December, I learned the binders had reached the Wing level, and the Group Superintendent paid a visit to ensure I still wanted the issue elevated to the Expeditionary Center. I did, of course, but I had since found an error that I wanted to correct. By the time I got around to updating the products (March 2017), my actual Squadron Commander had returned from deployment. He stated that he would not staff any products on this topic up the chain of command. In an attempt to gain his support, I wrote a memorandum and created an open-book test to help get the point across that “the chain of command is the primary and preferred channel for identifying and correcting discriminatory practices” (ref: DoDD 1020.2E, paragraph E2.2.b.). After reading these, he changed his position temporarily, but after speaking to the 621st Contingency Response Wing’s Legal office, he reverted to his previous position and offered to arrange a meeting for me to speak with the Legal office. During that meeting, the Wing Legal Advisor said my report “failed to show harm” to members without dependents. My report highlights systemic civil rights violations and a six-figure income gap, yet in his opinion, it did not “show harm”. I challenge anyone reading this to throw away $142,000 and tell me that doesn’t do harm. (That would easily change what neighborhood you can afford to live in, which can have direct impact on health and safety.) But that’s not even the most disturbing thing he said in that conversation. When I pointed out that the law does apply to members without dependents because “Family includes a single individual”, he told me (and this is a direct quote), “What the law says doesn’t matter.” I terminated the meeting shortly after that comment. No sense in debating with someone with that mentality. Pretty astonishing that a commissioned officer, and especially a commissioned officer working in the LEGAL field, would have such disregard for the laws created by Representatives duly elected by The People of our nation. I just don’t have words to describe how wrong this is.