WASHINGTON — Air Force leaders are working on ways to improve relationships and continue their commitment to airmen and their families, the service’s top personnel officer said this week.
“We recognize our people are our greatest asset, including our family members,” Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel, said during a Sept. 14 “DoD Live” bloggers roundtable.
“When we think in terms of how we’re striving to meet the requirements of our people,” he said, “it’s our men and women in uniform, it’s our civilian work force, [and] it’s our family members as well.”
Over the past year, Newton said, leaders focused on their commitment to families through “The Year of the Air Force Family.” Air Force leaders at all levels used this year to focus on their continuing commitment to communicate information that affects those who serve — airmen and family members alike — on the variety and scope of programs offered by the Air Force.
The observance also has highlighted the many successful programs already in place and informed airmen and their families of the development of new programs established throughout the year, he added.
Newton said one of the biggest things the Year of The Air Force Family has taught him is that focus must be directed toward single airmen, as well as families. It also provided insight on the challenges that today’s Air Force family faces and where the service as a whole needs to provide resources and fill in gaps.
“We had the first-ever Single Airmen’s Summit to address the challenges that single airmen face day in and day out,” he said.
The summit focused on areas such as, financial responsibility, suicide prevention, base support systems, personal growth and relationships.
Newton said another program that received in-depth attention was the exceptional family member program, which provides for families with special needs. “We’ve identified some gaps,” he said, “and what we’re acting on now is shoring up the family support aspect of this.”
The Air Force is providing 35 coordinators to help special-needs families navigate through some of the challenges they’ve associated with moving from base to base. Officials also are coordinating medical care at the installation level and connecting with school liaison officers to ensure family members with special needs are accommodated.
The general added that Air Force officials also are working on providing support to family members with school liaison officers to help children adjust in their transition, moving from school to school while having a parent on active duty.
Newton said the next area to focus on is how to move forward with what has been learned from the Year of the Air Force Family.
“Our focus and attention of our senior leaders throughout the ranks is indeed helping our families move forward from beyond 2010, so the spirit, intent of what we learned in the Year of the Air Force Family doesn’t end,” he said. “We want to make sure that we continue to meet the spirit and intent of what we learned the last 12 months.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)