“We are one Air Force with four distinct components–active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilians.
Airmen and airpower is how we should approach our Air Force,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody, who visited March Air Reserve Base, California, with his wife, Athena, July 11-14, 2014.
While at the Southern California base, the couple was able to evaluate the effectiveness of Team March via its Total Force Enterprise and its impact on mission readiness because March ARB is a unit-equipped Reserve base hosting an active duty component, two Air National Guard (ANG) components, as well as Marine, Army, Navy and Homeland Defense detachments.
Without base visits, the aperture can be pretty tight, Cody said, whose purpose was to get out and connect with Airmen.
“The reason we are here is to say thank you–to look you in the eye and tell you how much we appreciate what you are doing,” Cody said.
Throughout the visit, that’s exactly what they did. While visiting Airmen in various squadrons and work sections on base, Cody told Airmen that their work/life balance must be reasonable and sustainable and that they needed to be resilient.
“Aptitude and attitude will help good people stay motivated and move forward. Your job is to help your fellow Airmen to reach his or her highest potential. Live up to those core values; inspire and motivate,” he said. “You owe everybody a chance (to improve) unless the law is broken. You have to be willing to look them in the eye and have a real conversation with them, even when the situation is negative. Treat each person with dignity and respect.”
Another area where Cody stressed dignity and respect was when discussing the Sexual Assault Prevention and Reporting (SAPR) program.
“You are your brother’s and sister’s keepers. You approach this differently when you think about it differently. You are all somebody’s son or daughter,” Cody said. “There are no more courageous than you (Airmen). We have to get to the point where every single Airmen in uniform has the courage to do the right thing.”
During Cody’s visit to the March SAPR office, Maj. Lisa Hess, 452nd Aeromedical Staging Squadron, said “A victim is just that; care for them. Look for changes in behavior, be they good, bad or subtle. Educate yourself. Supervisors need to sit down and talk to their Airmen. Ask if something happened. Don’t give up.”
Not giving up is also something Cody spoke about to members of the Developmental Training Flight, who were waiting to begin Basic Military Training.
“It will be hard so rely on each other and push through,” Cody said. “Seven million men and women have gone before you. Work hard for the day you are called an Airman; it will change your life in a meaningful and purposeful way.”
While Cody and Athena visited many of the same locations together, they did divide their tour up at times so Athena could focus more on families and how to better serve them. Accompanying Athena during her March visit was Kelly Robin, wife of Maj. Ryan Robin, 452nd Security Forces Squadron commander.
They visited the Airman and Family Readiness Center to discuss the recent 3 to 1 Initiative, where the Reserve, Guard and active components merged and are working as one to provide all-around service to its military members and families. They also were able to invite all the spouses to learn about and become involved with the Key Spouse program.
Athena, a retired Chief Master Sgt. and air traffic controller, explained that the Key Spouse program is not a social program like many people believe. Key spouses receive training that teaches them how to resolve an issue at the lowest possible level before that issue becomes a crisis, she added.
“They are a walking extension of the Airman and Family Readiness office,” Athena said. “Single Airmen should get their parents involved in the program so if the Airman ever marries, the new spouse will have a mentor in the family,” she said.
She encouraged everyone to ive it a chance to determine its value. There have been Key Spouse programs developed by different entities here at March, but now they are beginning to work together.
“We are establishing a Key Spouse program on the Reserve side of the house and incorporating the active and Guard components. By coming here, Mrs. Cody has fundamentally changed the face of March Air Reserve Base,” said Robin. “She has allowed us the opptortunity to meet with her and learn from each other in an effort to establish long lasting programs, like Key Spouse, that will continue to nurture and strengthen families for years to come.”
Another method to nurture and strengthen March members and their families is to build relationships with the local communities, Cody said.
“We should create tangible connections with our civilian communities to create options for services available on active duty bases that we don’t have at a Reserve base.”
In making those connections the military has to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, Cody said.
“The responsibility to stop fraud, waste and abuse is with each of us. We need to hold each other accountable. Everyone knows the difference between right and wrong,” Cody said. “Take action against abusers and don’t feel bad about it. Friends don’t ask you to do things that aren’t right. It’s always the right thing to do the right thing.”
Looking ahead, Cody said the Air Force is going to look a lot different and it’s going to affect a place like March more significantly than in other locations. That is when you look at the future structure of the Air Force there are certain aspects of that that enable each of you to serve. If you weren’t able to serve in the capacity you serve today, he said you probably would not be serving because your life decision was and is based on what is going on in your life.
“That’s a great strength of our Air Force and we are not going to tear away from that strength in any way, shape or form,” Cody said. “But it is not going to be going back to a strategic ready Reserve. It’s a team sport. That’s where our strength comes from.”