In today’s Air Force environment of force restructure, budgetary constraints, continued mission requirements and resiliency, establishing a comprehensive support system in a unit is absolutely essential for success.
Each organizational tier, whether at the element, flight or squadron level, must be resilient and have support mechanisms in place to not only meet, but exceed daily and future challenges. As a squadron, resiliency is a core competency and is just as important as meeting certification requirements or establishing goals for an organization. I would advocate for any team to be successful by building resiliency and establishing a systematic support structure that includes all Airmen and their families.
How do you accomplish that? One of the Air Force’s top priorities is to “develop and care for Airmen and their families.” I think we do a great job at developing and caring for our Airmen through a multitude of programs such as upgrade training, certifications and professional military education, the feedback process, and standards and evaluations. Today’s Airmen are exposed to educational opportunities at every grade level, providing critical problem solving skills. However, how is our approach to our extended Air Force family’s support system?
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody stated, “Our Air Force families are a critical component to our success. These men and women serve alongside the service member by taking care of the homefront while we employ and enable airpower around the world.
Their faith and support is critical to our Airmen and enable the focus and dedication our complex missions require.”
There are three programs that are readily available today to improve unit resiliency and the support system umbrella – Comprehensive Airman Fitness, family care plans and the Key Spouse Program.
CAF strives to help our Airmen, civilians and family members become more resilient and better equipped to deal with the rigors and nuances of military life. One critical component of CAF that directly supports the unit are resiliency trainer assistants who provide effective coping skills and promotes overall wellbeing to the entire unit.
Second is an updated family care plan. In our high operations tempo climate, the family care plan is an incredible tool to help ease stress and boost family resilience and readiness during an Airman’s absence. This program is developed by service members to identify caregivers who have agreed to take care of family members during the sponsor’s absence. One of the most important considerations of family readiness is to ensure loved ones are taken care of when military commitments require Airmen to depart for training, mobilization or deployment.
Finally, the Key Spouse Program, which is designed to enhance readiness and establish a sense of Air Force community within the squadron, is extremely important. It’s especially important in units with high deployment rates because it promotes individual, family and unit readiness. More importantly, the Key Spouse Program encourages peer-to-peer wingman support and establishes continuous contact between key leadership and spouses.
Resiliency in today’s Air Force environment and establishing a comprehensive support system is absolutely essential to mission success. A key component that sometimes loses emphasis is family connections, which ultimately strengthens the unit’s overall support system and family resiliency.
Cody stressed that “Family programs, along with a good balance of work and family time are key to growing better and more productive Airmen.”
From a squadron commander’s perspective, the CAF, family care plans and the Key Spouse Program are critical components to a squadron’s overall success.