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Honoring Military Families

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Herb Hanson
  • 43rd Airlift Wing command chief
One thing we can't do enough of is communicate to our young Airmen and families who live on and off base. For them to take advantage of what Pope has to offer, they need to know what is going on.
We have the base paper, commanders' calls, Airmen calls, marquees and base-wide e-mails -- all of which work great if we remember to share that information with our families at home. Often after receiving e-mails, we read it and we press. If you're like me, you'll tell your spouse the day before or the day of the event that they also need to attend a particular function.
Getting the word out and communicating to people what's happening at Pope -- what we have to offer -- is vital. Short of visiting every spouse, we need everyone to share the important information we receive with our loved ones and continue to use avenues available to us.
Last week, we did that with the Airmen Appreciation Dinner. Last year's turnout was about 250 Airmen. This year, we had almost 400 Airmen attend along with 100 family members.
I want to thank the Top 3 -- particularly Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Fuqua, 43rd Contracting Squadron; Master Sgt. Carmia Basker, 43rd Airlift Wing Military Equal Opportunity Office; and Master Sgt. Kim Madison, 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron. They did a phenomenal job on this event. These fantastic Senior NCOs procured off-base funds, created the menu, coordinated with units and organized a wonderful potluck. They also effectively marketed the event to the entire base. Our Senior NCOs do it right every time -- whether it's the Senior NCO Induction, monthly promotion ceremony or the annual Airmen Appreciation Dinner.
We're hoping to do that again with Military Family Week, coming up Nov. 13 through 18. We're going to put together an advertising campaign starting with a poster contest for the students at Pope Elementary School.
We'll get the word out about the series of events that will happen that week, beginning with a fall family festival. Tuesday night at J.R. Rockers there will be an event that will include entertainment for kids; X-Box tournaments and challenge matches for teenagers; and clowns, face paint and a lot of things for the young kids and adults. It won't cost you anything to come and will be from 5 to 9 p.m. This is our way of showing families that we appreciate the sacrifices they make everyday. They endure a whole lot being just by being associated with a servicemember, especially since 2001.
The Top 3, teamed with the 43rd Services Squadron, is putting a tremendous effort into making this a great event. The key for all of us is to get the word out to our families that this is taking place.
The other critical form of communication we continually need to emphasize revolves around commander's calls either at squadron or wing levels. This is crucial to making sure Air Force information is reaching all base personnel. For example, a year and a half ago, the wing promised that it would get as much information out as he could regarding the base realignment for Pope and we reassured everyone that we would do everything we could to keep people informed.
The wing has done just that. Col. Timothy Zadalis has continued that effort to help people understand the coming effects of BRAC to civilian and military communities.
Now we are filtering out information on another round of enlisted force shaping. Active-duty members need to make sure they understand how this round may affect them or people they supervise. My advice: seek the information now so there are no surprises down the road.
The final type of communication I'd like to talk about involves what we as supervisors need to do everyday. We need to stop and talk to our Airmen and let them know we are concerned about their welfare. Make it a point to continually stress safety because it is our number one responsibility. We lost two Airmen this year because they weren't wearing their seatbelts, and almost lost a third.
Air Mobility Command just lost an Airman in a motorcycle accident. He was hit from behind by a car, but wasn't wearing a helmet. A parent should never have to bury their child, especially if the death was preventable. Supervisors have to continue to stress the safety message at every possible venue. You can help prevent a death by reinforcing our safety standards -- they are there to protect us. Besides, you never know when something you say will make a difference and save a life.