Caring for People forum addresses base, community topics

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gaddie
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A Caring for People forum was held at the Research Engineering Education Facility near the base Sept. 23.

The forum offered Eglin community members an opportunity to discuss quality of life issues and concerns, according to Kelly Ewert, community support coordinator. 

Ewert said the forum focused on five topics, which were addressed in focus groups: welcome support, family engagement, community resilience, organizational connectedness and single support.

Participants veered into the groups to brainstorm ideas and develop solutions. 

For welcome support, the objective was to find ways to improve processes, procedures and policies to help support and engage personnel and their families arriving here.  The goal is to increase welcome and relocation support, including joint services and civilian members.  

Senior Master Sgt. Kristen Hill, 96th Medical Support Squadron, voiced concerns about perceptions of unit operations, as personnel are welcomed to the base.

“I’m concerned personnel in one unit think they are more valuable than personnel in another unit,” she said.  “That perception can cause some personnel to not feel welcome, in certain circles, which can affect morale.  At the end of the day, we all have our responsibilities in overall mission accomplishment.  We should all take pride in that.”

Innovative ways to improve communication with family members were discussed in the family support group.  The goals were to obtain ideas to increase communication, engagement, and participation in events; to understand what gaps may exist; and to understand how to overcome family engagement barriers.

Tech. Sgt. Eric Danis, 372nd Training Squadron, hoped ideas from the group might impact Hurlburt and Duke Fields.

“I’m optimistic what we do here can make a difference for families at our surrounding bases,” he said.

The community resilience support group identified what motivates base members to have pride in their community; how to improve the sense of community and its surroundings; and create an action plan to make Eglin a better place to live and work. 

For Senior Airman Joshua Jones, 96th Communications Squadron, the loss of a recreational area here was a huge concern, which brought a favorable reaction in the community resilience support group.

“We would love to see a bowling alley come back to Eglin,” he said.  “I thought it was great place to meet, hang out and have fun.”  

The organizational connectedness support group addressed best practices of organizations for virtual/mixed work environments. 

They also talked about how the command can better equip personnel and supervisors for enduring telework environments, from a resiliency perspective.

Tech. Sgt. Jordan Swaner, 96th Surgical Operations Squadron, had a question about work/life balance, during the group’s discussion.

“I wanted to know how communication and networking is effective, in work and off-base environments,” he said.

Finally, the single support group discussed ways the community can increase the physical, social, spiritual and mental wellness of Eglin’s single men and women.

Capt. Mary Avalon, 96th Comptroller Squadron, was concerned about the disconnect between Air Force leadership and single Airmen.

“I feel there is a loss of communication somewhere in that relationship,” she said.  “We’re focusing on strategies to strengthen that connection.”

Ewert said the top two topics from each focus group will be presented to base leadership for action.  Progress on the topics will be tracked through the base Community Action Information Board and the Helping Agency Team, and will be reported regularly to base leadership.

Dale Marks, 96th Test Wing vice-director, said base leadership is prepared to act on their concerns and solutions.

“We want to hear what’s on your mind,” he said.  “We want to know what you’re thinking, and how you would solve those issues.   We don’t want to admire problems.  We are here to make a difference.”