Whether it is a Saturday evening at Strike Zone Bowling Center, a rental at Outdoor Rec, or a round of golf at Deer Run Golf Course, many have taken advantage of the services offered exclusively on Little Rock Air Force Base as part of the military family. However, are these services being used enough?
Certain services provide a core function for the mission which is necessary to maintain mission ready, resilient Airmen. While they are not direct, mission critical functions, they are indirectly important to the physical and mental health of Airmen. In September 2011, the Services Transformation Project was launched Air Force wide in an effort to determine how Airmen and their families use installation support services. Through this initiative, each base was asked for input regarding how each support service could be improved, modified or even eliminated. It is the suggestion of the Air Force to close those functions that may provide added value, but cater to a small, niche population and may require too large a share of scarce financial or personnel resources.
In reality, what works for one base may not be practical for another base. LRAFB is less than 20 miles from the heart of Little Rock, which has many cultural, entertainment and recreational opportunities. On the flip side, Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota is over 100 miles from Bismarck, the state’s capital. Therefore, while Little Rock has many opportunities off-base, those at Minot rely more heavily on the offerings on-base.
The Rockin’ Services Survey
This past July and August, the 19th Force Support Squadron developed and distributed the Rockin’ Services Survey to understand which base services are being utilized and to obtain feedback to improve customer service. The survey focused on the following six services: library, bowling, golf course, skills center (including arts & crafts and auto hobby), outdoor recreation and Hangar 1080. Approximately 1,500 people participated in the survey and provided valuable feedback and information.
The average respondent was a married, active duty individual who lives approximately 10 to 30 minutes off-base with children. Forty-six percent of the surveys were completed by individuals ages 18 to 34. Seventy-five percent of surveys were completed by individuals living off-base.
The majority of respondents visit the base several times per week. The primary reasons for visiting the base (other than work) were to visit the Commissary/BX or for recreation and services. Over 85 percent of survey participants reported using at least one on-base service. The primary reasons for not using base services was due to lack of time, better and/or more convenient services off base or no need for services. There were many suggestions made in the surveys, which will be taken into consideration.
What does this all mean?
While it appears that base services are being utilized, if use of them does not maintain or increase of they could go away. Certain initiatives have already been implemented or are in the process of being implemented. This past summer, the Teen Center was relocated to the Youth Center to consolidate the staff and provide more oversight while decreasing expenses. The Information, Tickets and Travel office will be located to the Exchange. This will result in greater accessibility to families and customers.
Short-term initiatives include 1) moving the Thomas Community Activities Center staff to Hangar 1080 and using the TCAC as the Conference Center Annex, 2) focusing on league play at the Bowling Center and 3) exploring public play membership passes for Deer Run to increase our customer base. Long-term initiatives include modifying the Old BX to create a WCommonsC concept to house the library, a café, community center with ballroom, and Airmen & Family Readiness Center.
If resources were not constrained and if funding was not an issue, would LRAFB still need to transform services? As it has been said, some of the programs and facilities are hold-overs from a different era and require modification. The mission and service identity is not tied to functions, facilities or programs.
For more information regarding Force Support Services and activities, go to rockinattherock.com, “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/19FSS or download the myMC2 app to your phone.
(Courtesy of 19th Force Support Squadron)