You can make a difference

  • Published
  • By Al Strait
  • 21st Space Wing Director of Staff
A few weeks ago, I sat in the base theater as our wing commander briefed the 21st Space Wing's new vision, mission and priorities. Our commander's third priority is "Lead and Take Care of Our People," with an end-state that "Peterson is the best place to work, live and visit in the Air Force." An NCO asked the commander -- and I paraphrase -- how we can do this with looming budget cuts that could impact quality of life programs.

With this question in mind, Peterson's resources team -- wing comptrollers, contracting officers, manpower experts, civilian personnel pros and the program management division evaluated possible strategies to deal with this year's budget cuts and made numerous recommendations to the wing commander.

Lt. Col. Miles Mathieu, 21st Comptroller Squadron commander, put it to me best: "Great bases don't happen with expanded budgets." I came away thinking many of the things that improve what we do, where we serve, or how our families live don't cost a dime. These are a few free attributes that make a base great:

- Positive attitudes: They're contagious and improve almost everything. Great attitudes also make it easier to weather life's obstacles.
- Above-and-beyond service even if you don't perform a traditional customer service function. Smile. Answer phones and emails. Be right -- and tireless -- in the pursuit of being right. Follow up. Admit when you don't know something, but then find out. Don't be satisfied by simply providing an answer -- anticipate follow-up questions.
- Capitalize on what Colorado has to offer -- you may never live here again. Get out and see the sights. The list of things our family needs to do outnumbers the available weekends, and many activities are free and are less than a tank of gas away.
- Professional growth opportunities. We all have fond memories of bases where we either began or concluded a PME course or participated in a professionally-based, peer-group organization.
- Community involvement. It could be through our chapel or an off-base church, with friends, family or on your own. How matters not, just take advantage of opportunities to contribute. You'll make life-long friends doing so.
- Take pride in what you do, and be the best at it. You don't have to love your job, but you have a right to know how your job contributes to the wing's mission. Knowing that, it's easy to strive for perfection.

Finally, let's keep perspective. Air Force Print News reported on "a situation that has forced leaders to re-evaluate the definition of quality of life" due to personnel and funding cuts. This caused a senior leader to say "We have to evaluate all facilities and how we spend our money." That was November 2006.

This is neither our first funding reduction drill, nor is it our last. Whenever budget cuts are discussed, cuts in quality of life programs jump to the forefront of Airmen concerns. Senior leaders think about the same thing as well, but instead they make every effort to preserve, not cut, our most effective and wide-reaching programs.

Rest assured, Peterson's senior leaders are advocating for you and your families during the current budget cut discussions. These programs are too important to do otherwise.