By Lt. Col. Ann Igl
21st Force Support Squadron commander
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The Department of Defense has committed to almost $1 trillion in budget cuts over the next 10 years. The reality is that the country cannot afford to continue to operate under “business as usual” conditions. Everyone must do their part to right-size to ensure we can stay viable. Here’s what that means for us at Peterson AFB.
As commander of the 21st Force Support Squadron, my unit is charged with supporting and developing key services utilized by everyone who works, lives and visits Team Peterson. In order to retain a competitive edge that allows us to continue providing you the best possible service, FSS must innovate and consolidate areas that maintain fiscal responsibility of tax payer money. This requires investment and use by the base populace — the members of Team Pete. Within the FSS, we are committed to your needs. Many of us utilize mnemonics to help us remember key facts and information. S-E-R-V-I-C-E is how the FSS is transforming at Team Pete. Let me step you through what S-E-R-V-I-C-E means.
Selfless. Service Before Self — our first core value. The current fiscal environment is going to test whether each of you has truly internalized and embraced this core value. Some programs and activities that were largely subsidized may have to be discontinued, but your FSS programs will still be your best value and I need you to step up and continue to support them. I am asking you to dig deep and make sacrifices — sacrifices that are, in a way, similar to the first core value of our Air Force: Service Before Self. Honestly it isn’t easy; not even for me because many programs are ones I enjoyed as a military brat and growing up in the officer ranks. The reality is that we have come to a point where they are viewed more as an entitlement than a privilege. But we must prepare for when the privilege is deemed too costly to be provided by the Air Force in the future.
Enthusiasm. We need you, our customers, to be enthused and participate in the activities and programs we offer. Participation at our club, bowling center and golf course helps ensure that we can continue offering those programs and others. With your support, we may even be able to bring some programs back that we’ve already cut or right-sized.
Resources. Team Pete is a partnership and as such we share our resources to get the job done. One of our mission partners, NORAD-NORTHCOM, generously provided some much needed end of year funds. These funds went into the recent and ongoing Club appearance upgrades of which many of you have positively commented. We are very grateful to NORAD-NORTHCOM for investing in us. Our club is looking better than it has in 20 years! With our CE partners, we expanded STRIPES, have laid tile and carpet, painted several rooms and will provide better support to you, the customers. Again, all thanks to the generosity of NORAD-NORTHCOM.
Viability. In order to continue to provide certain services that are available throughout Colorado Springs, we have had to make some conscious decisions to reduce program opportunities, slightly increase fees, reduce customer service hours and cut some programs all together due to lack of profitability or viability here at Team Pete. The Air Force has deemed some duties within education and training services as no longer required which will impact programs/service including discontinuing Distance Learning proctored university and college testing, individual counseling for VA programs, conducting Community College of the Air Force graduations, outreach and marketing, and commissioning program application package oversight. Additionally, due to significant personnel cuts taken in the education services programs, customer service hours have been reduced to 8 a.m.-2 p.m. and duties have been realigned to eliminate any service delays to you, the customer.
Innovation. We must innovate out of desire vice necessity! A perfect example of how your FSS is innovating is by utilizing great ideas submitted through the IDEA program as well as implementing some new ideas ourselves. As most people know, due to budget constraints we had to reduce the number of fitness classes we offer at the fitness center to the minimum AFI requirement. However, we are exploring new ways to provide similar services at a small fee so that the opportunity for our patrons to attend enhanced fitness classes still exists. We have also implemented an appointment system at the military personnel section for common access card to better utilize your valuable time and at the same time save manpower dollars. The appointment system can be accessed through the 21 FSS website under the military personnel section tab. Appointments for the Peterson MPS can easily be found by inputting the state and location of the MPS.
Customers. Partnering with our customers and keeping you informed while still providing the best services is our goal. Customer service has been our number one focus; however, we have had to make changes that don’t appear to be customer friendly. For example, many customers are disappointed that we had to start charging at the aquatics center for lap swim. While we understand this is disappointing, the only way to keep aquatics open was to charge a small fee. After much discussion this is better than completely closing the pool. We are also opening a new child development center soon; however, you will see empty rooms initially with gradual growth over the next few quarters. Our plan is to gradually open our rooms as we are able to recruit and train additional manpower, along with massaging our waiting list and rooms to meet our community needs in regards to childcare. Finally, in order to keep you informed, our marketing team recently transformed our FSS website. Please take a moment to explore and utilize it as it will be our primary marketing tool of the future. Go to www.21fss.com.
Excellence. Our number one goal during this transformation; is to do so with excellence. Initially we considered leaving the auto hobby center open and reducing the bays from 13 to six. After some cost analysis, we found that we’ll lose at least $32,000 a year even with 100 percent usage of all six stalls! Unfortunately, based on the analysis, it is necessary to close the auto hobby center. Although we are forced to close, we have shifted our focus and plan to co-locate outdoor recreation with ITT/leisure travel. Both will be located in the arts and crafts building. This ensures excellence for our customers by providing one stop shopping for all your arts and crafts, ODR and ITT/leisure travel needs.
S-E-R-V-I-C-E. At the FSS my vision is to support and develop our total force to sustain global dominance. Transforming to remain competitive in a fiscally constrained environment ensures our key programs that Team Pete uses and enjoys will have continued availability and profitability. The FSS is 100 percent committed to providing you the best possible options with unmatched SERVICE. As a full partner, can we count on your commitment to SERVICE?