JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Active duty, National Guard, Air Force Reserve and tenant Air Combat Command (ACC) first sergeants stationed throughout the Indo-Pacific attended the annual Pacific Diamond Conference Apr. 11-14.
This year’s Pacific Diamond Conference was organized to emphasize the Pacific Air Forces commander’s priority to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“The purpose is to help first sergeants understand the strategic imperatives of our theater,” explained Chief Master Sgt. Bradford Cambra, PACAF command first sergeant. “I helped them understand the significance of their mission to support Airmen who serve at bases that are geographically close to a near-peer adversary. They can then go back and help their Airmen understand their mission sets and why it’s important.”
In addition to the conference, Cambra used the opportunity to host an after-hours “Ring-Sizing Event” each day in support of ACC’s Diamond Care Initiative. This program allows first sergeants throughout PACAF to better improve their mental health, wellness and resilience through the optional use of issued smart rings and smart watches.
“I know what it was like to be a line first sergeant in an operational organization and the amount of stress the responsibility put on me, with no outlet of care,” Cambra recounted. “I thank ACC for coming up with this initiative. It can only make us better.”
The initiative was homegrown out of the 70th Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing, Fort Meade, Maryland, where Maj. Michael Vernale, director of talent management and assessments and operational psychologist, founded of the Diamond Care Initiative (DCI) alongside Senior Master Sgt. Adam Padgett, who serves as the project manager for DCI.
DCI embodies the EM3 philosophy, which means mitigate risk, minimize barriers to self-care, and maximize resiliency and resources.
“Our trainings and feedback are used to educate the force, our assessments and selections mitigate risk, and our forcing function for down days, annual resiliency check in and days off following a trauma minimize barriers to self-care,” clarified Vernale. “All of the above, to include data review, knowledge transfer, and wearables, maximize the EM3 philosophy objectives.”
The commander and command first sergeant of ACC were so impressed by the 70th ISRW’s Diamond Care Initiative that it was adopted throughout their major command (MAJCOM) and coordinated with other MAJCOMs in a grassroot effort.
The Diamond Care Initiative has bloomed from a wing-level program to an Air Force-wide initiative. Across the service, DCI will include quarterly training, annual resiliency consultation, off-boarding, and assessment & selection.
“As of today, all of the MAJCOMs are moving out in unison with the Diamond Care Initiative,” announced Vernale. “Each MAJCOM will designate their advisory board. The advisory boards are charged to act as a tiger team that enhances the capabilities and quality of life of a first sergeant and also as an execution team to follow through on specific MAJCOM first sergeant initiatives. One of these initiatives is the DCI.”
Senior Master Sgt. Ryan Francois, PACAF staff first sergeant, and Master Sgt. Randy Bedard, 15th Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, led the execution phase of PACAF’s implementation of the ACC-led Diamond Care Initiative.
“Both devices help measure certain health metrics in our bodies that respond to stress,” described Bedard. “As individuals notice an uptick in stress-related events, members can look back and reflect, maybe at night or the next day, and see, ‘Why was I stressed? Well, this is the event that happened that maybe caused stress or the amount of things that we’re dealing with on a day to day basis – maybe because the operations tempo had increased.’”
As the smart devices measure blood pressure, sleep cycles and physical fitness, first sergeants with high operations tempos will be able to better help themselves, and each other, strengthen their resiliency.
“I'll be able to see if I have 15 shirts at one location, and eight of them over a two-week period have only slept one hour. I might call the Command Chief and say, ‘Hey, maybe you might want to talk to your commanders about giving them a day off,’” chronicled Cambra as an example. “I’m really excited to roll this out across the Pacific, and I'm confident our first sergeants will be better equipped to serve their airmen and organization, advise commanders, and advance the mission.”
Senior Master Sgt. Adam Padgett, project manager and co-founder of the Diamond Care Initiative, explained that from the Diamond Care Initiative’s implementation phase at ACC to the execution phase at PACAF, the program has and continues to provide first sergeants with resiliency tools to ensure they’re even more fit to fight.
“We were able to meet all of our timelines across ACC and looking across PACAF as we implement this, I’m excited that we’re moving forward as a collective force,” accentuated Padgett.