USA — Air Force Calls People Greatest Asset

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)

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