JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Randolph, Texas – Commanders and senior staff from the 340th Flying Training Group’s seven squadrons gathered at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas Oct. 7- 10 for the fall commanders’ summit.
Col. Allen Duckworth, group commander, opened the summit with a state of the group briefing. According to the commander, the group is number one in the command for meeting manning goals, and efforts continue; efforts that 22nd Air Force has lauded.
Pay problems resulting when members transition between statuses, such as Active Guard Reserve to Traditional Reserve or vice versa, present challenges that the group will address during a November continuous process improvement event.
Encouraging attendees to take smart risks, the commander said “Don’t be afraid to speak up. I need you to arm me with information so I can make the best decisions for the group.”
This year, spurred by insight from Group Superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Scott Goetze, squadron superintendents were invited to participate in the summit. Including the superintendents stimulated crosstalk and discussion, enhancing teamwork and problem-solving on shared and unique issues.
Briefings covered ethics, military personnel updates, retirement and such medical topics as line-of-duty requirements, medical evaluation boards and general TRICARE information.
Tech. Sgt. Michaela Parsons, medical services section chief, reminded attendees that it’s flu season and the Air Force Reserve Command goal is to have 90 percent of personnel vaccinated by Dec. 20.
To introduce his comments on the Resiliency Tactical Pause recently implemented by Air Force leaders, Senior Master Sgt. Samuel Caballero, first sergeant, shared a very personal story about a mentor from his military training instructor days. He shared how the individual passed on lessons of strength, perseverance and professionalism that he draws on today.
"We stayed in close touch for a time and then as often happens when life gets in the way, we didn’t connect as much,” Caballero said. “We’d glance at each other intermittently on Facebook. There was never anything alarming in his posts that I saw. One day I clicked into my timeline feed to find notices that he had committed suicide. I want to say up front that when someone commits suicide, it’s no one’s fault, but we can make life more fulfilling for ourselves, friends and colleagues by not co-opting relationships to social media. There is no substitute for human interaction and building trustworthy relationships. Trustworthy relationships can go a long way toward opening avenues of communication for someone who may be having suicidal ideas. Get below the surface and if something seems off remember ACE – Ask, Care, Escort.”
The commander echoed the first sergeant’s sentiments.
“Interpersonal connections are critical. Airmen need to know they already have a support network in each other, the Air Force and us. They need to know it’s ok to reach out to that network," he said.
The next commanders' summit will be held next spring.