Top Enlisted Airman Works to Build Resilient Force
By Christen N. McCluney
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2010 Air Force leaders are working on ways to prepare airmen to be ready for the joint and coalition fight and build resilience among themselves and their families, the service’s top enlisted airman said this week.
During a Sept. 15 “DoD Live” bloggers roundtable, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy said one way to do that is to have deliberate development using experience, education and training that will help to create better airmen in the joint force.
For example, he said, students who receive joint medical training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, establish relationships across the services early in their careers. “From my view,” he said, “I think that's kind of where we should go in the future.”
Roy added that the way Air Force officials communicate not only with airmen, but also with spouses, significant others and close family members, is key to a sense of community. He said he and other leaders review programs the Air Force offers and their efficiency, while continuously seeking to instill a sense of community within the Air Force family.
He said programs such as the Air Force’s “key spouse” program offer an official communications network designed to enhance readiness and establish a sense of community among unit leaders, airmen and their families.
Another program Roy discussed is the new Air Force fitness program, which, he said, has changed the culture of fitness within the force.
“If you receive an ‘excellent’ [rating] on your [physical training], you only have to test once a year,” he said. “That was not in the original plan, but we reviewed it, took the feedback from the field, and 43 percent have scored a 90 or above, meaning they only have to test once a year.”
This change in the rules has made airmen take their fitness very seriously, he said.
The chief also addressed the military suicide issue, noting that building resilience within airmen and their families is an important focus for Air Force leaders.
“Any time you have one suicide, it's too many,” he said. The Air Force, he added, is continuing to develop programs that help airmen and their families deal with the suicide issue and other concerns.