By Scott Prater
Col. Sandra Adams, Air Force Services Agency commander, visited Schriever Oct. 23 to express the intent of the Year of the Air Force Family campaign, offer insights about its goals and gather valuable information for the Air Force while it attempts to enhance its support services for its members.
Schriever was the last of six bases Adams visited during her tour of installations along the Interstate-25 corridor. She began the day by briefing 50th Space Wing leaders about the Year of the Air Force Family campaign and later participated in focus group discussions designed to allow participants to air their concerns and issues.
Colonel Adams explained that the Year of the Air Force Family is not yet another Air Force program. Instead, the campaign seeks to raise awareness among Air Force members, their families, civilians, contractors and retirees about the support services the Air Force currently offers to its families and communities.
“This is a time to emphasize the programs we have, take a look at them and make sure the programs, services and support that we are currently offering are meeting needs, and if they’re not, make some changes,” Colonel Adams said. “We also want to identify some gaps where we’re not really providing any type of support and then start working on those.”
The AFSA commander conducted discussions with a wide variety of groups, including: chiefs, company grade officers and their civilian equivalents, single Airman, junior enlisted Airman, NCO’s, Air Force spouses and single parents. While speaking with Schriever spouses, including a few members of the base’s Key Spouse program, she explained the premise of the Year of the Air Force Family and that it is an effort initiated by Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz during July.
She then inquired about how spouses communicate and explained that the Air Force is aware people communicate differently today than they did even 10 years ago.
“We can’t print something in the base newspaper and assume everyone will see it,” Colonel Adams said. “We have to use the spectrum of media to communicate our message and we can’t forget about word-of-mouth communication because that is what triggers people to make decisions.”
Spouses at the focus-group meeting were then asked to raise their concerns. Ironically, communication was one of the issues they brought up for discussion.
A few of the spouses noted that even though Schriever hosts an Airman and Family Readiness Center and many other support programs, awareness of those programs is still lacking among spouses, especially those new to the Air Force.
Colonel Adams sympathized with the spouses group about their most pressing issues and assured them that the Air Force would look into creating solutions for those issues that could be addressed.
She also met with a group of Schriever’s single parents.
The group brought up numerous issues regarding care of their family members on a daily basis. Colonel Adams responded by saying that the Air Force is aware it cannot take a cookie-cutter approach to solving problems Air Force wide and that bases like Schriever present unique problems for single parents that should be considered when enhancement decisions are made.
Following discussions, Colonel Adams reiterated that the Air Force’s effort to improve its family and community support services is a timeless concept.
“On the 31st of July, when the year is over, things don’t stop there and then we move on to something else,” she said. “We’re tasked to identify those areas that we need to work on and that we need to put resources toward and put together a plan before the end of July that says what we’re going to do for the next five to 10 years.”