Worldwide defense unit at Patrick gets first female Army commander


Col. Mary L. Martin became the first female Army commander of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) based at Patrick Air Force Base at an assumption of command ceremony June 17.

photo by Linda Wiggins

A Department of Defense entity on Patrick Air Force Base that serves all five branches of the military service received its first female Army commander Army June 17. 

The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) at Patrick is the temporary home to every soldier of every division from every U.S. base in the world at some point in their leadership career, learning the mission of diversity and inclusion over several months.

“This isn't just something that takes place at Patrick for the Air Force,” said Army Col. Mary L. Martin, the 16th DEOMI commander in its 45-year history.

Formed in 1971 as the Defense Race Relations Institute, DEOMI later evolved in 1979 to address other issues of diversity. More than 46,000 military and civilian personnel has received their training at Patrick in matters of diversity and inclusion since then.

“I'm excited to be at DEOMI, where we're proud to call Brevard, the Space Coast, our home," Martin said. “Our mission is so critical to the readiness of the Department of Defense forces. I look forward to taking it to the next level.”

Martin previously served as the commander of the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, Germany. She holds a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice and three master's degrees: in Public Administration; Military Operational Art and Science; and Strategic Studies. She has earned many awards and decorations.

DEOMI's true birth date is 1948, when President Harry S. Truman ordered the armed forces to be desegregated. However, the practice did not begin to take place on a boots-on-the-ground level until the Korean War.

“They found that they needed every soldier in place and they all had to work together to succeed or even survive,” DEOMI public affairs chief Chris Calkins said.

Discrimination in the ranks and among leadership created a “broken” environment, and impacted defense efforts' readiness to battle, Calkins said.

“There were a lot of broken units in the '70s before DEOMI,” said Calkins, who retired from his Army career in 2004. He later became chief of the 45th Space Wing Public Affairs Department at Patrick until moving to DEOMI last year. 

“You couldn't get anything done.”