National Civic Outreach Program keeps public informed

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
  • Air Force Print News
The mission of informing the public about the military can be a difficult task and one of the tools of the trade is the base tour. The focus of the tour can be local or national.

Capt. Rob Lazaro, deputy director of the Air Force National Civic Outreach Office, said that national tours are a bit different from local civic tours because they focus on more of the big picture.

"Here we try to set up tours that are more strategically designed," he said. "We highlight specific Air Force missions and target specific centers of industry."

The focus ensures that the tours give the Air Force the most exposure for the money that is spent to conduct the tours, Captain Lazaro said.

"As the war on terrorism draws on and budgets get tighter and leaner," he said, "we really have to think more strategically about the number of tours we can host and we want to make sure we are maximizing each tour."

One national outreach tour brought a group of Hollywood-based industry leaders to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. During the two-day tour, participants got to see a variety of Lackland missions with a heavy focus on the Air Force's new warrior mindset.

One of the military escorts on the tour was Lt. Col. Stephen Clutter who is the director of the Air Force Entertainment Liaison Office. He said that the entertainment industry leaders were a great choice to attend the tour because a lot of people across the country learn about the military through the entertainment mediums of film, TV, video games and music videos.

"This civic leader tour is very important because these people are very influential in Hollywood," he said "We brought them here to show them not only how America's sons and daughters become the greatest airmen in the world, but also how the warrior ethos is instilled in the Airmen."

Michael O'Neill, who is a regular guest star on the CBS military-themed show "The Unit" and is starring in next year's movie "Transformers," said the tour was very educational for him and that he was impressed by how professional all of the military people were that he had met.

"In my acting career I play a lot of military personnel," Mr. O'Neill said. "I wanted an opportunity to see the faces that are doing this in real life. You get a real sense of the service and commitment of the people here."

Robin Whitney who is owner of a dance studio in Hollywood and a member of the Air Force Entertainment Liaison Board said that she can't wait to tell everybody at home about her experiences during the tour.

"We are never going to stop talking about it," she said. "We are never going to stop talking about how important the military is in times of war and peace and how important it is to realize these Airmen are the most important people in the country

Mr. O'Neill will have a simple message for the people back home in Hollywood.

"I will tell them that they are well defended."

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