2017, Year of the Family

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Malmstrom leadership attended a conference last fall at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., focusing on improving the lives of Airmen and their families. The conference unveiled Air Force Global Strike Command’s announcement of 2017 as “The Year of the Family.”

This year will serve as the foundation to build on quality of life programs for the future.

Throughout the year the issues in Airmen’s lives will be addressed. Whether it’s the ability to get a referral to a specialist, planning care for an exceptional family member or getting access to schools and information during a permanent change of station.

Colonels Jay Folds, 341st Missile Wing vice commander, Denise Cooper, 341st Mission Support Group commander and Craig Forcum, 341st Medical Group commander, joined other commanders from each of the Global Strike bases.

The conference recruited key players in base-level leadership to help identify and prioritize areas that would improve the quality of life for Airmen and their families.

The attendees addressed common issues within the command, identified several solutions and plan on using those findings to focus on improving the lives of Airmen and families.

“We looked at a lot of issues Global Strike bases said were important,” said Cooper. “We prioritized the list and brought those back to the bases to validate that those are really top issues in the minds and hearts of Airmen, their families and contractors who work on our base.”

The goal was to identify which areas senior leaders could quickly address and which areas might need higher-level leadership’s attention.

“The belief is if we recruit an individual we retain a family,” said Copper. “We identified specific courses of action (AFGSC Commander) General Rand down to a squadron commander can do to improve the lives of Airmen and their families.”

The commanders were tasked to work as a team to identify common concerns and come up with feasible solutions.

“General Rand broke us up into working groups and directed us to come up with improvements in five focus areas that he could quickly address and fix; whether it was putting some money toward it, a change in policy or advocating at the Air Force level,” said Forcum.

According to Cooper the areas of focus included where Airmen live, learn, play, pray and receive care.

“He was looking for our expertise and input to come up with ideas in each of those groups,” said Forcum. “We prioritized our ideas and provided three different courses of action for him to consider on how to attack the issues.”

Forcum was on the physical environment team, which covered base facilities. The team identified improving life in the dorms as the number one priority.

“We have (improved living conditions) from a housing standpoint by bringing in a private contractor here at Malmstrom and improved the quality of our base housing,” said Forcum. “However, so far, we have not been able to address some of the issues in our dormitories. We would love to improve the living conditions of the dorms for our Airmen.”

According to Forcum, another committee recommended streamlining the process to specialty medical care. If a referral downtown is needed for any type of specialty care it would be easier to get the medical expertise quickly and as close to an individual’s home station as possible.

The proposed program ideas aim to improve common issues that would impact the quality of life for every base within AFGSC.

“We were not looking at one base and what would be the fix for that specific base,” said Forcum. “We were looking at what General Rand could address that would impact as many of the bases in global strike as possible.”

“General Rand recognizes Airmen come to work more focused and ready to do work when they know their spouses have jobs, their children have access to education and the whole family receives necessary medical care,” said Cooper. “When those things don’t happen, Airmen come to work not as focused, not as ready and not as peaceful. We really have to devote effort to take care of that.”

Cooper believes that the U.S. Air Force takes care of Airmen and genuinely cares about families.

“It’s not lip service, it’s not a hand wave; we genuinely care about our families,” said Cooper. “We know our families are taken care of when we deploy. It makes sense to also know they are when we come to work every day here at the 341st Missile Wing. It is so important for this command’s mission, and this wing, especially when Airmen deploy out to the missile field four to six days at a time.”