CMSAF visits Abilene leadership to address community support for military families

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass, middle, and her team enter a restaurant.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass, middle, and her team enter a restaurant within downtown Abilene, Texas, Nov. 4, 2021. During her visit to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Bass met with the local community to communicate and advocate for Team Dyess members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mercedes Porter)

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass, left, greets Brad Holland, Hendrick Health CEO, right, and Col. Elizabeth Somsel, 7th Medical Group commander, middle.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass, left, greets Brad Holland, Hendrick Health CEO, right, and Col. Elizabeth Somsel, 7th Medical Group commander, middle, in downtown Abilene, Texas, Nov. 4, 2021. While meeting with key leaders within the Abilene community, Bass spoke with them about five topics to help Team Dyess members and their families thrive: childcare, education, healthcare, employment opportunities for spouses, and housing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mercedes Porter)

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass, right, greets Dr. David Young, Abilene Independent School District superintendent, left.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass, right, greets Dr. David Young, Abilene Independent School District superintendent, left, in downtown Abilene, Texas, Nov. 4, 2021. The community of Abilene has had a longstanding relationship with Team Dyess and its mission, which Bass recognized by meeting with the community leaders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mercedes Porter)

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Joanne S. Bass met with Abilene leadership Nov. 4, 2021, in Abilene, Texas, to thank the city for the continuous support they provide Airmen and to discuss key areas where military members and their families benefit from community advocacy.

“It is an honor to visit the City of Abilene,” said Bass. “The people of Abilene are amazing community partners who consistently demonstrate their care and support to our Airmen and families.”

Col. Joseph Kramer, 7th Bomb Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Coltrin, 7th BW command chief, introduced Bass to local leaders from the five industries that support military families. Those in attendance included Doug Peters, Abilene Chamber of Commerce president, Gray Bridwell, Military Affairs Committee vice president and honorary commander, Dr. David Young, Abilene Independent School District superintendent, Marcus Dudley, Abilene chief of police, Brad Holland, Hendrick Health CEO, and several other local and state leaders who work as partners to Dyess Air Force Base.

Upon meeting Abilene leaders, Bass noted the City of Abilene has a longstanding partnership with the Air Force base. With a thriving Military Affairs Committee which boasts 309 members, the city routinely seeks ways they can support Dyess Airmen and their families. It is this advocacy that has earned the City of Abilene multiple years as the recipient of the Air Force Global Strike Command's “Barksdale Trophy” award, as well as serving as the namesake for Air Mobility Command’s community award.

The Senior Enlisted Advisor’s priorities are people, readiness, and culture. The community surrounding our Air Force bases has an impact on all of these aspects for Dyess Airmen.

“Military communities understand the significance of what our Airmen do at Dyess," Bass continued. "We see that they want us to be able to accomplish the mission, support our way of life, and they understand that that comes with readiness. For community support, readiness may mean that our Airmen don’t have to stay at home out of concern for childcare. It means that they won’t have to drive three hours away to see the medical provider that can get them back to work, accomplishing the mission. It can look like employment opportunities for spouses, safe places to engage with others. This is the type of community support and advocacy that, as community leaders and advocates, our Airmen are counting on you to provide.”

In her remarks at the Air Force Association conference Sept. 18, 2021, Sharene Brown, Air Force Chief of Staff spouse, addressed the key factors that contribute to community support for Airmen. According to this initiative, the “Five to Thrive” pertains to community status on topics relating to childcare, education, healthcare, housing, and spouse employment opportunities.

Abilene leadership has supported a variety of efforts for each of these criteria. For instance, when it comes to connecting spouses to the local community, the Abilene Chamber of Commerce and Military Affairs Committee collaborated with Dyess to establish the Jump Start orientation program, a tour that takes Airmen and their families downtown to get connected to the local community.

“When Airmen are downtown, nearly all Abilene business owners provide a ten to twenty percent discount, or if they’re in uniform, strangers will thank them for their service,” Bridwell said.

The MAC has been mindful of the need for spouse employment opportunities as well, which is why, according to Bridwell, they set up a jobs portal, abileneworks.com.

Bass praised Dyess for this best practice orientation program and encouraged the community to continue to connect with Air Force members and their families.

“We are so thankful Chief Bass has come to Dyess Air Force Base allowing us time to showcase our community and show first support of our commitment to Dyess airmen and families,” said Bridwell. “Our history of support is sixty years in the works and looking forward to another six decades!”

Additional information about Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass and her priorities can be found at the Air Force Senior Leader page: https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Air-Force-Senior-Leaders/CMSAF/.