JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- More than 40 senior enlisted leaders and civilians from across the Eleventh Air Force attended a two-day workshop centered around group discussions of best practices and strategies focused on resiliency at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 6 and 7, 2019.
“This workshop is focused on making sure our people have all of the best possible resources that we have the power to give them,” said Chief Master Sgt. David R. Wolfe, senior enlisted leader of the Alaskan NORAD Region, Alaskan Command, and the Command Chief Master Sergeant for the Eleventh Air Force.
One of the workshop highlights was learning how Hurlburt Field, Florida, consolidated support functions at its welcome center to minimize stress for its newly arriving military members and improve the base on-boarding process.
At Hurlburt’s one-stop-shop Commando Welcome Center, newcomers sit for a one-on-one appointment with finance to ensure their pay is straightened out upon arrival, said Dexter Mitchell, community support coordinator for Hurlburt Field. This is one of the reasons Hurlburt boasts the lowest rate of errors in service members’ pay. While still at the welcome center, newcomers fill out a needs assessment to identify available resources and helping agencies at the installation to make their move and in-processing as smooth as possible. Newcomers then receive resiliency and suicide prevention training at the Resiliency Center, which is attached to the welcome center.
Another highlight of the workshop was a discussion on available resiliency tools and resources to foster and promote resilience. Brett Cato, contracting officer’s representative for Hurlburt Field, Florida, shared strategies to reevaluate and maximize current programs under Preservation of the Force and Family, and two Coast Guardsmen presented a suicide prevention training called safe TALK, which stands for Suicide Alertness for Everyone; Tell, Ask, Listen and Keep Safe. Both programs aim to maximize military members’ access to mental health resources and minimize the stigma attached to seeking help.
The workshop also provided a forum for attendees to discuss new, innovative ideas and learn from each other.
“It’s the opportunity to mine out the best ideas and then spread those across Eleventh Air Force,” Wolfe said. “What I hope is that everybody who comes here is going to come away with a couple of ideas they can take back to their installation and start better, stronger, faster programs for our Airmen.”
Chief Master Sgt. Karen “Liz” Cloyd, 36th Operations Group superintendent, said a major takeaway she learned from the workshop is the value of creating a feedback-rich environment and using that feedback constructively.
“How do we relate to our leaders? How do we relate to our peers? How do we relate to our Airmen? How do they see us? Give me real feedback,” Cloyd said. “What I believe I can take back to my installation is not only being a transparent leader, but being a leader who is willing to accept constructive feedback. The Air Force has entrusted me with the sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters of the United States of America, and those who come from other countries to join our military service, and we need to know are we truly leading, developing, mentoring and loving them in the way they need to be.”
“Every wing in the Eleventh Air Force is really getting after problems through innovation and idea sharing,” said Chief Master Sgt. Joshua A. Hurt, 354th Fighter Wing command chief. “It's really exciting to see the growth mindset all of these senior enlisted leaders have. They know we have problems and they're not running from them. They're excited and sharing ideas to try to figure out how to get after them. Chief Wright talks about it all the time. The Air Force can't solve all our problems, we have to solve our problems. This is the innovation that Gen. [David] Goldfein talked about; we’re becoming more like a cheetah organization - fast, agile.”
Although the next workshop isn’t scheduled yet, Wolfe said he hopes it occurs annually.