PEOPLE FIRST February 5, 2016


Editor’s Note: The “People First” section is compiled from information from the Air Force Personnel Center, TRICARE, 56th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Flight, Veterans Affairs, the civilian personnel office and armed forces news services. For the complete story, go to the web address listed at the end of the story.

James applauds DOD force of future initiatives

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James declared her support of department-wide reforms focused on improving quality of life for military parents, following Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s Jan. 28 announcement on the next round of Force of the Future initiatives.

“I applaud Secretary Carter and welcome these announcements as a positive step forward for our Airmen and their families,” James said.

James has been vocal about her support for extending maternity leave, and the importance of a comprehensive update to the Air Force’s current policy, including paternity leave reform as well.

“This change places our Air Force in the top tier of organizations that offer 12 weeks maternity leave to new mothers,” James said. “The department will also be introducing legislation to increase paternity leave to 14 days across the total force.”

The maternity benefit will be offered to the more than 200,000 women in uniform today, who comprise 14.8 percent of enlisted personnel and 17.4 percent of the officer corps in the Defense Department.

Have you tried MyVector yet?

National Mentoring Month is coming to a close, but there are still opportunities for Airmen at all levels to invest in their development and the advancement of others through MyVector.

In 2015, the Air Force launched MyVector to provide members seeking mentoring an opportunity for personal and professional development to help Airmen achieve their goals and ultimately strengthen the overall mission of the Air Force.

“I’ve recently discovered the MyVector tool through an announcement by the (secretary of the Air Force),” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Romero, an Air Force Operations Group emergency actions controller. “It was a bit of a relief to see this tool come out because I’d been looking for a strong mentor, and now had a resource full of volunteers who were able and willing to assist me in my career.”

For Romero, throwing his name out there and asking someone to be his mentor was a little intimidating, but said he felt it was necessary for his career. The good news for Romero was the system not only matches by using a by-name method, it also provides a mentor-matching capability based on weighted characteristics identified by the Airman searching for a mentor.

Officials announce design concept for WWI memorial

The United States World War One Centennial Commission announced Jan. 26 the winning design concept for a national memorial for what was known at the time as “The Great War.”

The incredible service and sacrifice of those who served in World War I a century ago finally will be honored in a memorial in the nation’s capital, said Edwin Fountain, the commission’s vice chairman.

Fountain, the grandson of two WWI veterans, announced the winning design concept at an event at the National Press Club here.

The winning concept is “The Weight of Sacrifice” by 25-year-old Joe Weishaar, a yet-to-be licensed architect, and veteran sculptor Sabin Howard.

The design concept met the challenges of creating a concept for such an important memorial, Fountain said. Those challenges, he explained, included finding an appropriate way to honor the magnitude of the service and sacrifice of the nearly 5 million people who served and the more than 116,000 who died.

In addition, Fountain said, the design concept had to work into the surrounding landscape, complement the iconic architecture and design of historic Washington, and serve as a city park.

Please try to write back

Bringing a little holiday cheer to an unknown service member was all an 8-year-old boy was trying to do 25 years ago.

A single letter united a pair of Air Force veterans, and the handwritten greeting made its way back to its author — now an Air Force major — at Hurlburt Field.

It started 25 years ago, when students from Fulmar Elementary School in Mahopac, New York, wrote letters to military members who were deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm.

A young Stephen Rausa started his letter anonymously with “Dear Any Service Member,” and ended it with “Please try to write back.” As he sealed his letter, he didn’t know if he would receive a response.

He never dreamed that he would get back a letter from someone with such a familiar name.

“There were a lot of letters boxed up, all addressed to ‘Any Service Member,’” recalled retired Master Sgt. Ben Rausa. “As I dug through the box, a return sender’s name caught my eye. He had the same last name as me. Rausa isn’t a very common name.”