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PME, families, civilians focus of latest Chiefchat



FORT MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody answered questions from Airmen, civilians and family members during his fourth worldwide CHIEFchat at the Defense Media Activity here April 29.

CHIEFchat gives Airmen around the world the chance to directly ask their questions to Cody, addressing topics ranging from military families to NCO development.

During the open forum, an Airman asked Cody via video … whether or not the reliance on distance learning is degrading the quality of training.

“I don’t think what we are trying to do is eliminate or reduce in any way shape or form the face to face time with our Airmen,” Cody said. “If anything, we are trying to create more opportunities for that.

“As an example, we are going through this transition to the new delivery method of enlisted PME, which is a blended approach … which requires all Airmen at the NCO and senior NCO roles to complete some distance learning prior to attending intermediate leadership experience or advanced leadership experience.

“The idea here is to get all the fundamentals done in the distance learning environment and bring in a certain level of competency. Then we bring them into an in-residence portion.

“It’s actually more robust in that interaction aspect of it where face to face is the most important … so really they’ll have more time.”

Cody said a blended approach should be brought in when it is most appropriate, but face to face feedback is important.

A spouse in the audience asked Cody what strategies he and his family use to help their children transition with a move.

Cody said, with every move kids are resistant because they have their friends and they have their lives.

“You have to value the challenges they face,” Cody said, “so I don’t think you can discount it. You just have to get them excited about the new adventure . I think it was always a positive aspect when we started to bring home information about the place we were going.

“I think you have to acknowledge the fact that it is a struggle for them because they didn’t sign up for this,” Cody said.

A civilian from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, asked about the downsizing of the Air Force and how it will affect the civilian workforce.

Cody said last year was a very difficult year for the civilians in the Air Force. He said they have had to endure a three-year wage freeze, getting only a small increase at the beginning of this past year.

“I think the key for all of us is to stay connected,” Cody said. “It’s a challenge at times. It affects people differently and we have to help each other through it. It takes all four of those components (active, reserve, guard and civilians) to be the great Air Force that we are … it really does.”

One Airman asked Cody about what motivated him to stay in the Air Force for 30 years.

Cody said that initially, he and his wife, Athena, didn’t think of making the Air Force a career. As young staff sergeants they both thought of leaving the Air Force to work as air traffic controllers for the Federal Aviation Administration.

They both loved their jobs. Cody admitted they knew that both of their incomes individually would have doubled if they went to work with the FAA. His parents even asked him what he and his wife were going to do and why they weren’t going to separate from the Air Force, especially having the option to live close to home and make more money.

“And that’s when Athena and I stepped back and talked a lot about whether or not this is the life and this is what we want to do,” Cody said. “We talked out loud about it and said … we really do love the Air Force and we love being an Airman in our Air Force.

“We liked the job a lot, but we liked all of it … and we liked it enough that we felt it was more important to keep going on as Airmen, rather than to go off and do something else.”

For further information from Cody on these topics and more, visit his page or view CHIEFchat here.

Airman can join the conversation with the chief master sergeant of the Air Force by following him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cmsafcody.


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