By Scott Prater
Schriever’s Single Airman Initiative for fiscal 2014 ended Sept. 30, but SAI director Seth Cannello says the wildly popular program will continue on in fiscal 2015 with a fresh round of funding.
As the fiscal 2014 program drew to a close, it was an appropriate time for Cannello
to reflect on the past year’s activities and discuss events for fiscal 2015.
“More than 330 people participated in SAI activities this past year,” Cannello said. “Though many of our activities occurred during the summer months, we offered at least one SAI trip every month from October 2013 to September 2014.”
Funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the SAI program was designed to provide resources that foster a strong culture, mission and sense of community for single Airmen.
Cannello contends that it’s more than that, however.
“The SAI builds morale and improves the quality of Airmen’s lives,” he said. “It’s one way the 50th Force Support Squadron is leading people [one of the Commander’s Inspection Program’s four major graded areas].”
As the driver for many of the SAI sponsored trips, which included, hunting, fishing, mountain hiking, river rafting and sky diving, Cannello witnessed the program’s effect on participants first-hand.
“We took a lot of one to two-hour trips into the high country,” he said. “During the ride, I could hear people relaying their personal experiences, making new friends and even planning future activities together.”
Second Lt. Justin Taylor, provided just one example.
“I’m from the south and I’m used to being surrounded by hunting enthusiasts,” he said. “But, since moving here, I hadn’t been able to really find a group of people who share that interest. That’s why the hunting trip through SAI was so great, I met people who are now my hunting friends.”
Taylor admitted, he held some apprehension prior to his first SAI trip.
“When I first heard about the program, I honestly assumed it would be plain or boring,” He said. “Either that or if anything truly worthwhile was offered, those spots would be snatched up so quickly that I wouldn’t get a chance. That’s what I’m used to experiencing with free programs.”
Taylor went on the Schriever SAI’s skydiving and hunting trips, while Capt. Rodrigo Ocampo went soaring in a glider and skiing in Colorado’s back country.
“I felt like a VIP,” Ocampo said. “We drove to a popular resort, then rode a snow cat to runs that are normally inaccessible to skiers. They were the best runs I’ve ever skied.”
Cannello explained that Schriever Airmen are particularly fortunate because there is no way SAI programs in other parts of the country can offer the types of activities Colorado base members can access.
“It’s hard to raft in white water if you’re stationed in Kansas, or climb a 14er if you’re in Texas,” he said. “Here, there are just so many outdoor activities within a couple hour’s drive.”
In the past year, Senior Airman Douglas Patterson went horseback riding, river rafting and skydiving with Schriever SAI.
“Saying that I enjoyed the trips is an understatement,” he said. “They created lifelong memories for me. They’re events that I’ll talk about for a long time. Seth does a great job of choosing the best trips.”
That’s actually something Cannello hopes to change for fiscal 2015.
“In the past, I’ve come up with all of the ideas for the Schriever SAI activities and I’ve scheduled everything I can think of,” he said. “We’ve got our funding for 2015 now and I want Schriever Airmen to tell me what they want to do; the SAI program is for them.”
To suggest an idea for a future SAI activity or to register for one, contact Cannello at 567-6658.