Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody talks with Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler as they prepare to testify before members of the House Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill March 19, 2013. The two senior enlisted leaders, along with Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal Barrett, testified on the quality of life in the military. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)
by Master Sgt. Jess D. Harvey
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
3/21/2013 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody testified on quality-of-life issues in the Air Force before House Appropriations Committee members March 19.
The biggest challenge currently facing the Air Force is the nation's fiscal situation, Cody said, citing the looming furlough of 180,000 civilian Airmen due to sequestration as a threat to the service's readiness and the overall quality of life of our Airmen and their families.
"There is no question our Airmen are nervous and concerned with the current fiscal environment that affects our nation and Air Force," Cody said.
"The impacts of sequestration and the past six months of operating under a continuing resolution authority are significant and detrimental to our Air Force and for all those serving," he said. "Our Airmen remain dedicated and committed to completing the mission around the world and ask for your leadership to ensure they're able to do so."
During his testimony, Cody also addressed several other matters affecting Airmen ranging from building resiliency to education and taking care of families.
"As we move forward and our force changes, we must adapt our programs and services to ensure we meet the needs of today's Airmen and their families," Cody said. One of the first topics on Cody's agenda was building the resiliency of Airmen.
"We believe an Airman's personal and professional successes depend on this resiliency, and feel it is our responsibility to provide the education and resources to help them and their families build it," Cody said. "To that end, we have created Comprehensive Airman Fitness, a construct built on four pillars or core tenets."
The tenets he addressed are mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness, which most Airmen are introduced to early on and the Air Force aims to reinforce throughout their career. Inherent to the tenets and resilience is fostering a stronger culture of mutual respect and trust, Cody said.
It is not enough for Airmen to be resilient; they must also treat one another with the dignity and respect each of us deserves," Cody said. "Every Airman must be respectful of those working with and around them, every Airman must be alert and able to recognize signs of distress, and every Airman must intervene in situations that could turn negative."
With that, he addressed the ongoing issue of sexual assault within the force and efforts to eliminate it.
"We understand the impact of this crime on the individual, their families, their friends, and other people in the units are tremendous and unacceptable," Cody said.
He emphasized that Air Force leaders have emboldened every supervisor and commander to be actively involved in eliminating this horrible crime from our ranks by highlighting the recent Air Force-wide health and wellness inspection, the establishment of a Recruiting Education and Training Council set up to eliminate sexual assault and that senior leaders are undertaking a more focused, direct communication with Airmen about this issue.
Cody also reaffirmed the Air Force's dedication to the education of Airmen before the committee.
"The Air Force has the most educated enlisted force in the world," Cody said. "Every Airman entering service is automatically enrolled in an associate of applied science degree program through the Community College of the Air Force."
Since April 25, 1977, CCAF has awarded more than 408,000 degrees that correspond to each member's career field. Additionally, more than 21,000 enlisted Airmen have bachelor's degrees or higher and 23 have earned a doctorate degree.
He pointed out that the CCAF program is currently engaged in developing credentialing pilot programs and policies that support the White House Veteran Employment and Credentialing Initiative and the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, Section 558 mandate.
"We are convinced that opportunities like these directly increase Air Force recruitment and retention as well as enhance our Airmen's professional capabilities," Cody said.
Cody also addressed the needs of military families, to include senior leaders' dedication to providing quality housing to Airmen, because "quality housing ensures our Airmen and families have a strong supporting foundation."
Key to this are the military's ongoing privatization efforts.
"As we progress through 2013, we look forward to completing privatization of all housing in the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii," Cody said. "Housing privatization allows us to deliver high quality homes to our members more quickly than ever before and at significant savings to the taxpayer."
He said senior leaders are also deeply committed to providing quality dormitories for our unaccompanied Airmen.
"Our focus remains on providing an environment of care, development, and mentorship for our Airmen," Cody said. "Our dormitory campuses are not just a place to sleep; they are a place for young Airmen to adjust to military life and build a strong sense of community."
Overall, he pointed out, Airmen are doing truly amazing work around the world every day, but it's not possible without the dedication Air Force senior leaders have for taking care of Airmen and their families.
"These men and women take care of the home front while our Airmen are employing and enabling airpower around the world; families stand strong while loved ones deploy to war zones in foreign countries," Cody said. "Their faith and support is critical to our Airmen and enable the focus and dedication our complex missions require."
3/22/2013 10:19:25 AM ET I notice that there is no mention about cutting off TA. Automatically enrolled in CCAF but Airmen will have to figure out how to pay for it. Note even thought the appropriation's bill that passed yesterday requires all services to turn back on TA Airmen may still not see it this FY. The bill required that the services restore TA at the original funded amount. The AF had only funded 100M which we've already spent. This is the typical practice and SAFFMB funds the shortfall from fallout money before sending fallout to the MAJCOMs.