Air Force Caring for People forum begins

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Richard A. Williams
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency
Air Force professionals and families from around the world brought improvement ideas to Air Force leaders during the 2011 Air Force Caring for People forum here July 19.

More than 250 Air Force leaders, program managers, family members and volunteers assembled for the start of the three-day forum to discuss ways to improve support programs and services available to Airmen and their extended families.

"This year we have expanded participation from previous years to include representation from other key Air Force constituents," Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley said.

Exceptional Family Member Program members, Air Force Teen Council organizations and Key Spouse program managers are critical to successfully creating programs which benefit Airmen and their families and important to the decision making process, Donley said.

Base level 'Caring for People' events have allowed delegates to raise and prioritize issues at the major command levels across the Air Force before attending this event. These smaller events, new in the forum process, give Air Force leaders a "snapshot" of the concerns which affect Airmen and their families at the lowest levels.

High operations tempo and deployments over the past 20 years have taken a toll on Airmen and by extension their families; programs need to be in place at home to give the men and women down range a piece of mind knowing their families receive the support they need, Donley said.

"In our Air Force we sometimes have a tendency to focus on the awesome technology that surrounds us," Donley added. "No matter how advanced our systems and technology we ultimately depend on our Airmen who maintain these systems and put them to work in support of our national security. We have established some programs of great value to our Airmen; however, they are only of value if they continue to be available and utilized by our Airmen."

The input shared during the forum provides leaders at all levels widespread awareness and continuous feedback from participants on whether or not proper programs are in place.

"Your input to this process is absolutely instrumental to the forum and overall program success," said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy. "The fact that we have subject matter experts, field representatives and Airmen's families here together makes a difference in how we can improve programs."

Roy said the input received from participants informs Air Force leaders on what is important and what Airmen need on a daily basis. He also said he remembers what it was like to be a young Airman and he wants to ensure the programs and support are in place to offer guidance to all Airmen who need it.

"It is time to define which programs work for us and which do not," Roy said. "We have a perfect opportunity to mold programs into what we want them to be and that is the challenge this week. We need to find out what works, what doesn't and how we can best formulate a system that works to help our Airmen."