607th ACS strikes with resiliency

For the Airmen of the 607th Air Control Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., high-paced training environments can induce immense levels of stress.

In addition to training the newest Control and Reporting Center operators, the squadron prides itself in its mission to improve the well being and working environment of its Airmen.

Early in 2022, 607th ACS Airmen began construction of an Airmen’s Lounge, a place where squadron members could relax, unwind, and connect with their peers, both on the operations and maintenance sides of the unit.

The 607th Air Control Squadron’s Mothers Room is prepared for any nursing mothers who need it, August 22, 2022 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The Mothers Room was renovated to meet the standards set by 56th Fighter Wing Public Health and the Air Force, which ensure that Airmen are provided with the proper resources to take care of themselves. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jakob Hambright)

Working in an old office, a team of more than 50 Airmen put more than 4,000 hours into the project, using $41,000 of donations from various organizations, including other units on base.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the newly completed and christened Viper Den on June 3, 2022

The Viper Den has a table tennis set, two gaming systems, various movies, and board games. According to Airmen, it would not be uncommon to see a ping-pong match or even a training class on any given day.

“We had a Lieutenant Colonel, who was a reservist, come in and do a presentation about a new simulation software for our students here,” said Senior Airman Nathen Vanbuskirk, 607th ACS weapons simulation technician, one of the Airmen who led the renovation project.

With the extra space provided, the squadron has been able to host group discussions and informal classes on various topics, previously unavailable to the unit. Nearly three months after the opening of the den, the squadron’s senior leaders have seen the effects.

“It’s been a massive success,” said Master Sgt. Admire Gary, First Sergeant of the 607th ACS. “Not only have I, but our commander has seen a huge impact on our Airmen.”

The success of the Viper Den inspired other Airmen to contribute to their workplace in other ways. One way was the renovation of the Mother’s Room, where members could nurse their children in a safe and secure environment.

Securing $1,800 of unit funds and $2,000 in donations, a team of 12 Airmen put 125 man hours into the renovation, adding various comfort features and utilities into the room, including additional furniture and dividers.

“A lot of the new furniture we got for the room was donated or given to us from other groups,” said Tech Sgt. Menina Closner, 607th ACS surveillance training non-commissioned officer in charge. “The new chairs are actually these old comfy commander chairs, so we figured they’d work.”

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Nathen Vanbuskirk, 607th Air Control Squadron weapons simulation technician, and Airman 1st Class Gabriel Benslay, 607th ACS weapons simulation technician, showcase the 607th ACS Viper Den, August 22, 2022 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Vanbuskirk and Benslay assisted with the construction of the den, working off duty on the project to better support the total force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jakob Hambright)

After its completion, the Mother’s Room passed Public Health’s initial inspection with a perfect 27 out of 27, and strictly followed guidance in AFI 36-3013.

Apart from the technical improvements to the room, new chairs, tables, and dividers were added to create a stress-free environment for the mothers, allowing them nurse comfortably.

“Some of the privacy things we added were an availability sign, that the mother could change to show the room’s being used, and a keypad lock so that they could nurse privately without the risk of someone walking in,” said Closner.

Aligning with the squadron’s mission to improve its Airmen’s experience, the Mother’s Room recognizes the extra work mothers put in, while still maintaining the mission of the squadron, and the U.S. Air Force.

As resiliency remains one of the U.S. Air Force’s top priorities, even junior Airmen have the opportunity to better themselves, their peers, and their units. The Viper Den and the Mother’s Room are just two examples of the 607th ACS ensuring that their Airmen are ready for the mission ahead.

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