By Scott Prater
Team Schriever members are set to experience an enhanced level of support and services following approval of 10 initiatives at the Air Force’s Caring For People forum.
At the annual forum, which took place in Arlington Va., July 19-21, Secretary of the Air Force, Michael B. Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, met with representatives from every Air Force installation to discuss and approve submitted initiatives.
Christina Stump, community readiness consultant, represented Schriever at the forum and voted on the initiatives to be approved for implementation. Following the event, she traveled back to Schriever to explain the multiple outcomes.
“Subject matter experts came together to provide guidance and information,” she said. “We discussed and analyzed issues that every installation had submitted through their major commands. Collectively we studied the issues and then decided on those that really were the key issues affecting people in our Air Force now.”
Ten initiatives were approved for implementation by the Community Action Information Board at the Air Force level.
Flexibility of the daily cap of on-base childcare
Right now, on-base Child Development Centers can care for dependent children for a maximum of 10 hours per day.
“We have shift workers who are working 12 hours shifts,” Stump said. “So, we’re looking at creating flexible childcare programs that can accommodate parents who work longer than 10 hours.”
Optimizing medical clearances for deployment support
“Sometimes families with special needs children get assigned to bases that can’t always support them,” Stump said. “We’re looking at evaluating the system before members make a permanent change of station, so that the base they are moving to has all the services they need before the family moves.”
Provide flexibility in dormitory living
Stump indicated that currently Airman with less than three years of active duty service are required to live in the dorms unless they are married or have children.
“Well, there are 28-year old Airmen living in the dorms,” she said. “It’s not necessarily appropriate for them. Someone who has been living on their own for years but then decides to join the Air Force is not going to want to go back to living in a dorm. We’re looking at removing that three-year requirement and providing more flexibility in the dorm program.”
Improve AF fitness culture
Forum representatives listened when Airmen indicated that the current fitness culture revolves around the AF fitness assessment, that unit physical training is no longer mandated and that inconsistent leadership views exist.
“We asked, ‘do people feel the AF fitness culture revolves around the PT test?’” Stump said. “The summit recommended that fitness be part of the mission and that having PT everyday integrated in with an Airman’s job is a better way to move forward.”
Synergize fitness and a healthy lifestyle
Airmen indicated that the AF lacks a comprehensive approach to fitness and a healthy lifestyle, has stove-piped functions and agencies and incongruence between fitness improvements and increasing obesity. Forum participants recommended a more proactive, multi-pronged approach starting in Basic Military Training.
Improve continuity and standardization of the Total Force Exceptional Family Member Program
“Right now, we have EFMP coding at our Medical Group and then resources at our Airman and Family Readiness Centers,” Stump said. “What we want to have is a central location for EFMP. We want to standardize key programs into a one-stop shop.”
Increase awareness of our Air Reserve Component about underused special needs services
Summit participants indicated that people are not receiving available services because they are unaware of their availability.
Rounding out the approved initiatives were: flexible funding streams for deployment support, reinvigorating and tracking the AF sponsorship program and freeing up the availability of healthy, low-cost food options on base.
A productive event
Following a long career of attending conferences, forums and summits, Stump was clearly shocked at the level of action that came out of the event.
“This was probably the best conference I’ve attended in my life,” Stump said. “The AF-level initiatives were addressed all in one place and with all the right people. I’ve never been in a room with as many influential people, including [Michael B. Donley, Secretary of the Air Force], [Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, chief of staff of the U. S. Air Force], Mrs. Suzie Schwartz and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy.”
Stump was careful to explain that these initiatives have been approved by the Air Force CAIB and that implementation of the initiatives will be the responsibility of support agencies at AF installations.
Bill Sokolis, Schriever’s Airman and Family Services flight chief explained that Airmen shouldn’t have to wait long for these initiatives to be implemented.
“I was impressed by the amount of Air Force leadership involvement,” he said. “They are genuinely attentive to the issues that were brought to the forum by the men and women of Schriever and every other base in the AF. With the swiftness that recommendations of past forums were implemented, I anticipate seeing many of these initiatives as part of the AF in the near future.”
For more information about support and services available here, contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center at 567-3920.