Thursday, April 24, 2014

TOP STORY>>Finding light through darkness

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Keeping a secret that defines you, that has shaped your life for nearly three years now and is sure to shape the rest, a secret that you go to sleep with every night and wake to every morning is sometimes hard to keep trapped inside.

I could probably go my entire life without revealing the sad truth that I was raped by another Airman, but to stay silent is to allow individuals who prey upon the innocent to flourish.

Exactly one day after photographing Airmen proudly marching through the streets of a city receiving joyous responses and unanimous support for their sacrifice of service to the United States of America, I was sexually assaulted by a male Airman.

That secret is one which took me nearly a year to even reveal to my mother and have yet to reveal to the majority of my family or friends. The Airmen I serve alongside everyday have no idea that I’m a victim of sexual assault, until now.

Some people may wonder why I would reveal my story in such a public forum, and the truth is I hope this story reaches a person, a son, a friend or even an Airman who has been sexually assaulted and it allows them some peace in knowing they are not alone no matter how dark their day may seem.

In my case, I reported my assault within a matter of days because I knew if I buried the truth it would overcome me and the result would be fatal. I initially filed a restricted report, but once I gained strength and understanding of my situation I then filed an unrestricted report.

After being sexually assaulted, many victims, including myself, are very confused about the situation and blame themselves for what happened. Large amounts of alcohol, isolation and subduing played a huge factor in my sexual assault. You can imagine waking to this reality the next morning as if it were a nightmare, but this nightmare was real and would continue to play over and over again in my head for months following the assault.

Filing an unrestricted report opened me up to a world of re-victimization. The Office of Special Investigations called me within hours of filing my unrestricted report to conduct an interview. The interview consisted of me recounting my sexual assault down to the most minute detail. I understood the interview must be done to gather evidence to potentially bring the perpetrator to justice, but no matter how many people warned me of that interview I could never have been prepared.

I am not discouraging victims from filing an unrestricted report, but they shouldn’t walk in blindly. Reliving one’s experience is painful. Yet, by involving law enforcement, you just might prevent another sexual assault.

The effects of my sexual assault, filing an unrestricted report and knowing the perpetrator was still at the base I lived on started to pour into my work. Less than six months prior to my assault I was chosen by my office to sit in front of the Below the Zone board with the intent to achieve the rank of senior airman well before others because of my dedication to service and my craft. You can imagine how strange it may seem to leadership that an Airman who was considered one of the best in an office could all of a sudden change.

There was a large amount of misunderstanding between me and my office. I was not willing to reveal my situation to them and in return it left them with little knowledge of why I was not performing as well, coming in late and almost not there, in a sense, even when I was.

I struggled to find sleep every night and even when I did I would wake hourly from a dream relating to my sexual assault. When I would try and do my job my mind was always replaying the incident over and over again. I became isolated and constantly worried people knew about my situation, which caused me a great deal of anxiety.

I cannot lie, I did think about suicide for some time, but it never came to that thankfully.

One day while photographing the flying squadron at my base I had what I call a moment of clarity. I spent the majority of the day photographing Airmen fixing engines, marshaling aircraft and everything in-between. It wasn’t until I returned to my dorm at night that I realized I had not thought once about my sexual assault or even the struggles in my office. I was free for a day.

That day didn’t last very long though. Once I laid my head down that night all of it came roaring back into my brain. A short amount of relief, but still it was a silence I had not heard in so long. That night I decided if I wasn’t sure if I wanted to live, but knew I could not take my own life, that I would give myself to the one thing that silenced it all … photography.

I started slow and when I arrived at my new base, thanks to a humanitarian transfer, I still had some hurdles to overcome, but through counseling and a steady diet of photography I was moving forward for the first time in a long time. Even now, years after being sexually assaulted and dealing with being misunderstood, every time I raise the camera up to my right eye I feel peace, I hear nothing and see everything.

Life is definitely different for me now. When I devoted my life to photography nearly three years ago, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant and still don’t, but photography keeps me breathing, keeps me feeling, keeps me alive. I constantly search for the light that brings silence to my pain.

Being a victim of sexual assault is not something that is easily described, but to put it into perspective, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder not only from the assault, but the prolonged exposure to a hostile environment at my base that plagues me to this day. I still struggle to find sleep, struggle to communicate with others, and most of all I struggle with the idea of sharing my life with another person.

The person who raped me had no regard for how the assault would affect me. The crime he committed has little to do with passion and a lot to do with control, manipulation and taking power away from someone. Through this commentary I hope to regain some of that power and control he stripped from me and give other victims of sexual assault some as well.

Very few men report being sexually assaulted, and I believe that is because they fear how society will view them, how they’ll be judged and how they even may be considered less of a man. So I ask everyone who reads this: I am a male and I was sexually assaulted—do you think less of me?

TOP STORY>>300 students take part in JROTC Expo

By Senior Airman Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Team Little Rock units showed nearly 300 high school students Air Force career opportunities at the 2014 Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Expo April 17.

The JROTC students visiting from high schools from as far away as Missouri to Louisiana spent the day experiencing life as Air Force members.

The day included security forces K-9 team demonstrations, night vision goggle demos, explosive ordnance disposal robots, bioenvironmental suits and chemical warfare gear fittings, a fitness challenge at the health and wellness center, and a tour through Airman dormitories. The students also toured the inside of the air traffic control tower and interacted with the aircrew inside of a C-130.

Cabot High School senior Emily Everetts said, “I learned about the different jobs the military branches offer and what people go through to do their job.”

Lt. Col. Eric Wittendorfer, 19thOperation Support Squadron commander, began the day by explaining the Team Little Rock mission and encouraging the students to enjoy the day’s events.

“This day is about you, ask a lot of questions and enjoy the day,” said Wittendorfer.

Every available agency, squadron, group and wing supported the event.

“The purpose of the expo is to teach the students our mission, how Airmen support our mission, and how the programs support our Airmen,” said Capt. Matthew Wilson, the JROTC expo coordinator.

Representatives from the sexual-assault and prevention response office, TRICARE, the base education center and resilience training were set up in hangar 233 for the students to learn about programs that help Airmen through off-duty life.

“We want to show them the real military not what they see in the movies and on television,” said Wilson.

TOP STORY>>Remembering Miracle Monday

By Airman 1st Class Scott Poe
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

At approximately 8 p.m. April 25, 2011, a tornado ripped through Little Rock Air Force Base.

The tornado traveled across the base with winds of up to 135 miles per hour. The impact of the tornado was catastrophic, damaging more than 100 houses on base, three C-130 cargo planes and many other buildings on the installation. The EF2 tornado ravaged on for five miles, leaving a 1,000-foot wide path of destruction.

The swirling vortex struck base housing first.

“I remember lying in bed, playing on Facebook,” said Portia Martinez, an Army spouse who lived in base housing at the time. “I heard the tornado sirens go off, but I thought it was no big deal. Then my brother-in-law called and told me to take cover. As I was looking for a place to hide, I could hear it; it was just like what people say. It sounded like a train. It was real close and real loud, and I could hear it down the street, so I ran into the bathroom. I could feel the wind from under the door and I was really scared, especially because I was pregnant.”

After the tornado dozed its way through housing, it hit buildings along the flightline.

“I remember looking outside and seeing what looked like a wall cloud; that’s when we went to our shelter-in-place location,” said Tech. Sgt. Wesley Ratts, a 19th Component Maintenance Squadron aircraft hydraulic systems noncommissioned officer in charge. “We hid underneath the tables. Everything got really loud; it was actually like the sound a train makes. There was a screeching loud noise.”

Ratts said the actions taken after the tornado were what ensured the safety of Airmen and base residents.

“It was over really quickly, and then it was quiet,” said Ratts. “Some of the roof had been peeled away, so it was raining inside. We got our flashlights outof our shelter-in-place kits and started going around the building making sure everyone was ok and accounted for.”

Ratts was in a hangar along with Staff Sgt. William Diestro, a 19th Component Maintenance Squadron aircraft hydraulic systems craftsman.

“Our building was filled with debris from outside,” said Diestro. “There were tiles and insulation all over the place, even a street-crossing sign.”

Diestro said he looked outside and saw a car leaning against the building. “The wind rolled a dumpster across the parking lot and the dumpster tumbled over another car and then hit mine. The dumpster ended up smashed against our building.”

The impact of the tornado left a lasting impression on Ratts.

“It scares my kids a lot knowing I was in the tornado, so now when they hear about a tornado they get pretty upset,” said Ratts. “We take it more seriously now, and we just get the kids whereever we can to keep them safe.”

Diestro and Martinez also said the events of that night cause them to react to things differently than before.

“For a while after the tornado, it would sprinkle, and I would start shaking,” said Diestro. “I would look out the windows and make sure I didn’t see any funnel clouds. I definitely act a lot different now whenever I hear tornado sirens.”

Martinez said she constantly watches the weather channel, even if it’s only raining. In her mind, however, even if there’s no evidence of a tornado or storm, she begins to form emergency plans just in case.

“I panic now when I hear the tornado sirens,” said Martinez. “Even to this day I still freak out and immediately begin to think, ‘Where am I going to go? What am I going to do?’”

The storm system that caused the tornado is the same system that caused chaos throughout other parts of the U.S. A total of 321 people were killed during the tornado outbreak of April 25-28, 2011.

It was a miracle Team Little Rock survived such a catastrophe without any serious injuries or deaths.

Take cover, be smart, use common sense and stay safe during tornado season.

The Giant Voice siren continuously sounds when an imminent threat to the base is detected. Immediately seek shelter and stay there until the siren ceases.

For more information on how to stay safe, make plans or get ideas to create your own disaster supply kit, go to:

Always be prepared for severe weather by following the Giant Voice on twitter by visiting: or by texting (without quotes) “Follow 19AWCommandPost” to 40404. Standard text messaging fees apply.

If you have any safety questions or concerns, call the 19th Airlift Wing safety office at (501) 987-3290.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Drug take-back Saturday

The next DEA Drug Take Back event is scheduled for Saturday at the Base Exchange.
The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.
For more information, visit

Annual memorial Run Saturday

The annual Brian Valley Memorial Run will be Saturday. There is a potential for traffic delays that morning from 8 to 9:30 a.m. The running route will begin at the at the Jacksonville-Little Rock AFB University Center and will block one lane of traffic on Vandenberg, McArthur and Marshall roads. Please use caution when driving in these areas.

Street Smart demonstration

The Street Smart safety demostration is April 30 at the Thomas Community Activity Center. Demonstrations will be at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Presented by experienced firefighters and paramedics, Street Smart is a real-life program demonstrating the consequences of poor choices such as drunk driving, drug abuse, eating and texting and talking on the phone while driving and not wearing seatbelts. Come learn how you can become Street Smart, and be on the front line of safety. For more information, contact Master Sgt. Albert Beckwith at (501) 987-6377.

Pharmacy entrance closure begins

The pharmacy entrance will be closed today through May 2 to install handicap accessible ramps. Additionally, the handicap parking spaces will be moved immediately following the installation from May 5 to 16. Completion dates are approximate due to possible weather delays.

SAPR Down Day May 2

The second annual Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Down Day is scheduled for May 2 across Little Rock Air Force Base. The even covers a new module, “Identifying Offenders.”

SAPR Down Day closures

The following facilities will be closed May 2:
19th Medical Group
19th Airlift Wing Legal Office
19th Airlift Wing Finance
Military Personnel Section
Civilian Personnel Office
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Crossroads Cafe grand re-opening
The grand re-opening of Crossroads Café will be at noon May 3. The celebration will include a cookout, music, door prizes, gift bags, movies and an Xbox One to enjoy. The event is free.

TLR Social Media Town Hall scheduled for May 20

Col. Patrick Rhatigan, 19th Airlift Wing and installation commander, will be hosting a town hall May 20 from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. via the Little Rock Air Force Base Facebook page. The commander wants to connect with service members and their families in order to better understand the concerns and needs of his installation. Visit to join the event. A full description and list of Rules of Engagement can be found on the base website At this time town hall questions can be posted in advance on the event wall. If you have any questions regarding the event, contact Public Affairs at (501) 987-5855.

Legal Office closure May 23

Due to an official function, the Little Rock AFB Legal Office will be closed from noon to 4:30 p.m. on May 23. Normal business hours will resume on the next duty day. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Legal Office at (501) 987-7886.

TOP STORY>>Celebrate Earth April 22

Courtesy of 19th Airlift Wing
Public Affairs

Every April 22, Air Force installations around the world observe Earth Day by taking actions to enhance sustainability and support the Air Force’s Earth Day theme of “Conserve Today – Secure Tomorrow.”

This year, the Air Force is highlighting sustainability programs, including energy conservation and use of renewable energy sources, effective water resource management, pollution prevention, reduction in the use of hazardous chemicals, and use of innovative environmentally-friendly technologies in design, construction, landscaping and facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization.

Sustainability is important to ensure we have, and will continue to have, the water, materials and resources to protect human health and our environment.

Effective natural resource management allows the Air Force to save money, reduce risk, and ensure its availability to support Air Force operations to “fly, fight, and win” now and in the future.

The Air Force is committed to continuing to conduct our current operations in a sustainable way.

Every Airman must protect and conserve these natural resources for the benefit of present and future mission requirements and for the benefit of present and future generations.

We want to leave a lasting legacy without leaving a lasting footprint.

While the Air Force is finding ways to participate in Earth Day, here a few practical things you can do.

TOP STORY>>Military spouses PCS too

By Senior Airman Regina Agoha
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

When permanent change of station orders drop for military members, military spouses do not automatically have a new job assigned to them with a tidy checklist that tells them exactly what to expect during their move.

It can be an uncertain, frustrating and scary time of upheaval, but thankfully there are programs, agencies and a cadre of other spouses with the experience and tools to help with the military moving adventure. Bottom line: you are not alone.

“This will be our sixth move,” said Carrie Waller, watercolor artist and military spouse.

Waller has owned her painting business for four years and is preparing to move with her family soon after her husband received new orders to Japan.

“When we moved to Germany in 2001, I had just graduated, and I had my degree in interior design,” said Waller. “I tried to get a G-S position as an interior designer. I spent about a year trying until I realized what I wanted to do might not happen. At that point, I decided that I would figure out my own path.”

Waller started teaching art classes for the Air Force and Army. She became a contractor for the Army and conducted the art program for the Boys and Girls club. She painted murals and started a blog that she still maintains.

Like Waller, other military spouses said they had to be creative when things didn’t work out exactly how they planned when having to PCS.

“I own a company called Signature Decks and Fences,” said David Elliott, construction supervisor for his business and military spouse.

Elliott started his business in 2005 before he was married to his spouse.

“My business is still in Panama City, Fla.,” he said. “It’s still going. I’ve done a lot of emailing, and I make a lot of phone calls. I thought it was going to be easier than it ended up being. My closing ratio has tremendously dropped since I had to leave.”

Being away from his business has caused some issues, but without the help of family and friends, especially his father, Elliott said he wouldn’t have been able to keep the business going.

Though Waller was able to move her art business whenever her family moved, Elliott decided that running his business long distance while finding a local job would be more beneficial for his family.

“It was hard enough to run a business from afar, so to add one here was out of the question,” Elliott said. “I have a great reputation there and a lot of clientele in Florida. What happens if we leave here and I’ve started a business? I’m not prepared to run two businesses from afar. I like it the way it’s set up now, and I also work here for a company where I’m a construction supervisor.”

Elliott’s advice to anyone who struggles with finding work is to use sources that are available on the internet and on the base.

“I looked online for assistance within five months of my wife receiving the orders,” he said. “I found resources that helped me develop a website to display my talents. I also went to the Airman and Family Readiness Center, and they helped me create a resume.”

One way Waller said she stays ahead of the game and remains connected in her area of work when her family has to move is by researching the area and networking before moving.

“I think networking is your biggest ally,” she said. “From networking myself and getting to know as many people as I can when we move, I still have friends in Germany. One of those friends is a lady named Sue Hoppin, and she started the National Military Spouse Network.”

The whole purpose of that organization is to help military spouses network when arriving at a new location.

Waller explained that if a spouse living in one area moved to another area and was wondering who might be able to answer questions or provide guidance, the National Military Spouse Network provides the tools necessary to do so.

If a military spouse has a job that builds on clientele, like photography, it can be difficult when leaving an area because that kind of clientele can’t follow someone to another base, networking through the National Military Spouse Network, encourages newcomers to branch out and meet new people.

Though PCSing can be frustrating, both Waller and Elliott said there are a lot of advantages in moving as well.

Waller explained that knowing that you would only be stationed at one place for a short amount of time, you tend to “hit the ground running,” getting your business out there as soon as you can.

“You can’t get stuck in a local rut when you move so much,” she said. “When you move all the time, you are on a fast track. You only have a year or two or three to get your business established.”

If a spouse struggles with finding a job, Waller, who taught herself how to paint, encourages them to figure out what their passion is and don’t be afraid to invent your own path.

“When we moved to Germany I thought I was I was going to get a job in interior design,” she said. “I was stubborn for about a year untilI realized this is not going to work the way I planned. I put myself out there, and I turned something negative into a positive. If you can’t get the previous job you had at one place, be willing to do something different, and say ‘how can I make this work?”

Elliott said he sees more positives in PCSing than negatives.

“I was actually looking for a break from my company,” he said. “You can kind of get worn out with one thing, so to think that I can run it and do something differently was like an exciting new adventure in life. I was looking forward to moving, seeing a new area and meeting new friends.”

Both said the key to making job searching due to PCSing less stressful is to be persistent, start early, network, research and be confident and try to find something that’s enjoyable.

Waller started networking with artists in Japan as soon as her family received the assignment, which was six months before their arrival date.

There are many opportunities for military spouses to find jobs. The Airman and Family Readiness Center can teach spouses how to write or edit resumes. Visit websites like and, where there are lists of non-appropriated funded jobs available. Another method and one of the easiest ways to find jobs is by using social media, which is another way of networking. Use these resources to take stress out of PCS.

TOP STORY>>Get out, get involved: Managing social stress

By Senior Airman Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Leaving the comforts of home behind and arriving at your first duty station can send one’s stress through the roof. You may not know anyone at work or anyone in your living quarters, and you’re still learning where places are around base. You may even get lost on your way to work.

A couple of ways new Airmen can lower their stress level is by getting out of the dorms, experiencing activities and events in the local area and getting to know new people. One of the easiest ways to meet people is to take a few steps down the halls of your dorm and into the dayroom. Most of the dayrooms have televisions or pool tables.

The 19th Force Support Squadron here offers many avenues to get out and play with a wide range of fitness classes, bowling lanes, tennis courts and other sporting activities. If you enjoy sports and competition join your squadron’s intramural sports team. There are sports to play all year round.

Outdoor recreation sponsors off-base trips for single Airmen and most of them are free. The Outdoor Adventure Program plans many exciting trips to areas off base. The trips include but are not limited to: canoeing, kayaking, fishing, dinner cruises, pontoon boat rides, rock climbing and mountain biking.

Free food and video games may be your route to meeting other Airmen. Crossroads Café offers free dinners on Fridays and has video games, movies and music equipment for Airmen to use at their leisure.

You can always ask your supervisor or your first sergeant about volunteer opportunities. Finding a group that spends their time putting hours back into the community and helping others is an awesome way to learn about your new community.

If you take the time to talk with other Airmen and get out of your dorm room, you will quickly find there are others who not only have the same challenge of learning the ropes of being stationed at a new base, but many have the same interests and hobbies as you.

Find more details and contact information at or at

TOP STORY>>SAPR Down Day set for May 2

By Staff Sgt. Jessica Condit
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The second annual Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Down Day is scheduled for May 2 across Little Rock Air Force Base. The event covers a new module, “Identifying Offenders.”

The SAPR Down Day not only meets the Department of Defense and Air Force policy requirements, it teaches Airmen to recognize the impact of sexual assault on individuals and the Air Force and to identify the behaviors of offenders, their characteristics or indicators, and how they operate.

Understanding the impact sexual offenders have on the Air Force and individual Airmen is exceptionally important to having the courage to do what is right during difficult times.

Learning to recognize the habits and behaviors of sexual offenders gives each Airman the ability to potentially stop a sexual assault before it even happens.

The day starts off with a commander’s call that all Airmen must attend, which highlights the two modules that are to be the focus of discussion throughout the day.

After the commander’s call, Airmen will break into small group discussions in order to have a more interactive and detailed lesson. The groups will also participate in team building exercises, furthering their understanding of the two new modules.

The SAPR office will be passing out information about Team Little Rock’s SAPR program at the Base Exchange lobby and will have informational posters set up around the walking trail located at the Warfit Track for members participating in the Silent Walk/March.

Linda Benjamin, a 19th Airlift Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Response victim’s advocate, emphasized the importance of the SAPR Down Day and how bringing the issue to the top of the list for Air Force priorities has placed a positive spin on the program.

The SAPR office processed nearly 20 reports in 2012 including restricted and unrestricted reporting.

“The increase in reports is good because it means people are comfortable coming forward no matter when or where the incident took place,” she said. “They know we are here to help and support them and that makes you feel good when they know they can trust you.”

Conducting events like the SAPR Down Day encourages Airmen at all levels to be supportive and to seek help when it is needed. Many options are available to victims of sexual assault; from medical treatment to criminal investigation procedures, men and women have many options to choose from whether they choose restricted or non-restricted reporting.

The SAPR Down Day encompasses all aspects of identifying and stopping sexual predators, encouraging victims and provides information on the options that are available for victims of sexual assault.

Anyone could be in a situation where they are the victim or know a victim. It is the responsibility of everyone to be the voice of encouragement for someone who cannot find the strength to be their own voice and to know where to turn to for help when it is needed.

For more information on SAPR Down Day, contact Linda Benjamin at (501) 987-2685.

TOP STORY>>No air power without ground power

By Airman 1st Class Harry Brexel
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

“Danger is no stranger to an AGE Ranger.” That motto is heard throughout the 19th Airlift Wing aerospace ground equipment support flight. DINSTAAR is a saying that may date back to Vietnam. The story goes that AGE Airmen were under constant fire by the enemy yet they still fearlessly ran to protect their equipment that serviced planes.

AGE Airmen take pride in the motto as well as their unique job.

For every hour that an aircraft spends in the air, it spends dozens of hours on the ground being prepped. The aerospace ground equipment flight, of the 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron takes on that task every day.

“Preflight and post flight maintenance is essential to the mission,” said Senior Master Sgt. Eric Holland, 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment support flight chief. “Most bases don’t have as many planes as we do, so we work hard here.”

The Little Rock Air Force Base AGE flight consists of more than 85 people who maintain the equipment that keeps planes moving. The team works on approximately 613 pieces of equipment, 24 hours a day seven days a week.

The gear that AGE rangers work on supplies electricity, air conditioning, hydraulic and air pressure support to aircraft. However, there is a plethora of equipment that AGE Airmen service, inspect and maintain. At The Rock, there are approximately 30 different types of accessories that AGE is responsible for.

“AGE is divided into three sections. We quickly deliver or dispatch equipment to planes on the flightline. We inspect and then we maintain/repair the equipment,” said Holland. “We basically maintain the integrity of all ground equipment. On average, 45 different pieces of equipment are inspected each week.”

Many pieces of the generators, air compressors and bomb lifts are older than the AGE Airmen that work on them.

“Though some of the equipment that we work on can be decades old, it isn’t necessarily a problem,” said Master Sgt. Dewayne Sora, 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment production superintendent. “Most of the kinks have been worked out, similar to the C130s themselves.”

Although the equipment and mission of AGE has remained constant through the years, the way in which they do it has not.

Recently the AGE flight has changed the way they get their job done.

They have initiated a program calledAir Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century. By putting a white board up for AGE Airmen to submit innovative ideas, the flight has saved time and money.

“We have better organized the equipment that we inspect. For example, motorized equipment is now on one side and non-motorized on the other,” Holland said. “We’ve also integrated welding into our job. We’ve cut back non-value hours and miles of travel by using ideas from AFSO21.”

Though there have been changes to the AGE flight, the work ethic has remained the same.



THE COMBAT AIRLIFTER CLASSIFIED DEPARTMENT will take ads by phone from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 982-9421, or you may mail your ad to 404 Graham Rd., Jacksonville, Ark. 72078. You may also e-mail them to Deadline to advertise in Friday's issue is 5 p.m. Tuesday.

7th ANNUAL VETERANS Celebration - Monday, May 26, 11 am - 1 pm.  Veteran's Memorial Hwy, Marvell, AR.  Special Speaker Ret. COLONEL MIKE ROSS OF NLR, Veteran Iraqi Wars, complimentary lunch! SPECIAL RECOGNITION Of TWO "Purple Heart" Cities to be announced! Call Mary Ned Foster, 870-338-1460.

DIVORCE WITH OR WITHOUT children $125.00. Includes name change and property settlement agreement. SAVE hundreds. Fast and easy. Call 1-888-733-7165, 24/7.

IF YOU USED THE BLOOD THINNER PRADAXA and suffered internal bleeding, hemorrhaging, required hospitalization or a loved one died while taking Pradaxa between October 2010 and the present. You may be entitled to compensation. Contact Attorney Charles Johnson 1-800-535-5727.

HURRY! Only FIVE MORE HOMES to advertise siding, windows or roofs for upcoming brochure. Save hundreds of dollars. No money down EZ financing. Home owners only. 1-866-668-8681.


$350 plus a week. No experience. Air quality testing, 10-15 openings. Must be 18 and have reliable transportation. Paid weekly. Call for interview, Mon.-Fri., 9 am-5 pm. (501) 605-1303.

MECHANICS WITH truck & trailer experience needed! Competitive pay DOE, full comprehensive health benefits & more! Must have 2 years experience, own tools, clean background, CDL-A a plus. E-mail resume: or call: 501-562-5591.

TEMPORARY POSITION (2 months) for Dental office reception. No dental experience required but must be able to answer phones and greet patients. Please send resume by fax: 501-983-4716 or by email:

DRIVER: CDL-B with hazmat, Monday-Friday, 1 year experience & clean MVR. Heath, dental, vision & 401k. Apply at Recruiting. (309) 834-2017.

NOW HIRING - Plant Superintendent, also Mig & Tig Welders, Riggers, & Supply Clerk Salary DOE. F-T positions include benefits. Call 870-367-5317. Apply at 728 W. Patton St. Monticello, AR

JOB OPENINGS! WELDERS - Must have flux core exp., FITTERS, 2 yrs exp, ability to read blueprints/pass written test. MAINTENANCE, Heavy Elec. Pneumatics/hydraulic exp. IND. PAINTERS min. 2 yrs. COMMERCIAL paint ext. 501-490-5175,, OR 8900 Fourche Dam Pike, LR.

Heavy Equipment Operator Training! Bulldozers, Backhoes, excavators. 3 Weeks Hands On Program. Local job placement assistance. National Certifications. GI Bill Eligible! 1-866-362-6497 (Allied Career Training, AL Licensed: SBPCE).

REFERAL/ADMISSIONS COORDINATOR - FT, NLR • Exc. Org.  skills & time mgmt. skills., Basic computer/typing skills , Knowledge of ins. Some medical background preferred. Email resume to: NeuroRestorative Timber Ridge, 4500 West Commercial Drive, NLR  Ar 72116 • 501-707-3252, EOE.

TRUCK DRIVER TRAINEES NEEDED! Learn to drive for Stevens Transport! EARN $750 PER WEEK! No Experience Needed! We will get you trained! 1-888-778-0459.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

TOP STORY>>Museum welcomes home Vietnam vets

By Staff Sgt. Jessica Condit
19th Airlift Wing, Public Affairs

Members of Little Rock Air Force Base along with community partners kicked off the Welcome Home Vietnam Vets celebration April 5 at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History in Jacksonville, Ark.

The military service members provided a helping hand in all aspects of the event, ensuring veterans and civilian attendees were provided ample opportunity to interact with their military counterparts.

In January of 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were signed, ending the presence of U.S. forces in Vietnam and sending our servicemen and women home. While fighting a war in a foreign land was a challenge for these men and women who served, coming home to friends and family seemed like an even bigger challenge for some.

With every event that was experienced and every instance that was overcome, these men and women viewed their rekindled life in a whole new light. Stepping off a plane to be shunned and hated by protestors, the service members who fought in the war on Vietnam felt helpless to the charges against them.

Dannakay Dugger, the Jacksonville Museum of Military History museum director, recalls the way she felt after seeing the faces of soldiers arriving home from Vietnam and stepping off the plane.

“As a little girl, I remembered thinking to myself if I should be for or against this war,” said Dugger. “The real trigger point was the day I watched one of the first reports of the protestors at the plane as the GIs were coming home.”

Dugger recalled how the soldiers were just so happy to be home, and looking over to see the people they thought were there to greet them. She recalled the look of confusion as they realized the protestors were yelling at them and screaming and remembered the emptiness on their faces when they realized the protestors were there to protest them.

“I remember feeling helpless and sad,” said Dugger. “This has been a burden on my heart for almost 40 years.”

Along with recognizing Vietnam veterans, the Welcome Home Vietnam Vets celebration showcased a new exhibit, “From Arkansas, to the silver fields of Vietnam,” where nearly 600 dog tags of Arkansans who lost their lives during the Vietnam conflict, hung from the ceiling on a plate shaped like Arkansas.

The event highlighted several other pieces of memorabilia from the Vietnam era, a parade, official recognition ceremony and culminated with a dinner for Vietnam veterans and guests of the event.

If you missed this year’s Welcome Home Vietnam Vet celebration, you will have many chances to make up for it. President Barack Obama declared May 28, 2012-Nov. 11, 2025 as the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War and the Jacksonville Museum of Military History plans on celebrating this 13-year commemoration.

For more information on the Jacksonville Museum of Military History or the Welcome Home Vietnam Vets event, contact (501) 241-1943 or visit

TOP STORY>>Kids give props to KUDOS

By Senior Airman Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The Airman and Family Readiness Center sponsored its third annual Kids Understanding Deployment Operations April 5, 2014 Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. More than 750 Team Little Rock members participated in the event where multiple squadrons set up booths demonstrating to children the deployment process.

KUDOS’ purpose is to inform children about the deployment processes their parents go through each time they go down range. Its goal is to also lessen some of the anxiety children may have during a parent’s deployment.

Master Sgt. Steven Elliot, an assistant coordinator of KUDOS, said, “Kids see their parents leave for deployment, and today gives them a snapshot of what their parents go through and what it takes to deploy, and it also shows what happens down range.”

Elliot said, the event shows children what the aircraft looks like and what the fire department, security forces and other agencies do.

“I think it eases their anxiety,” he said.

Many of the displays and hands-on demonstrations for the children to view and participate in included: 19th Security Forces Squadron military working dog demonstrations, response vehicles, weapons displays, and a Nerf gun firing range; 19th Operation Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment parachute interactive exhibit; Civil Engineer Squadron fire trucks, chemical warfare gear and Explosive Ordnance Disposal reconnaissance and disposal robot activities; and 19th Medical Group self- aid and buddy care activities.

Children attending said the event was fun, and they learned things about when their parents deploy.

Amber, 10, said the event helped her understand how hard it is for her dad to deploy. Her favorite part of the day was when the K-9 unit showed them how the dog holds onto the “bad guy” until its handler tells it to let go.

Among other displays, the chapel, finance, legal and Airman and Family Readiness Center assisted the children through a child-like version of the out processing checklist.

Seeing what their experience during the deployment process and down range, at a level they understand, children will hopefully be put more at ease, even if a little, when their parents have to deploy.

TOP STORY>>April is Alcohol Awareness Month

By Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Little Rock Air Force Base Alcohol Awareness Month is held every April and was founded and has been sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence since 1987. The idea is to increase the publics awareness and to help reduce the stigma associated with alcoholism that too often prevents individuals and families from seeking help.

As stated by the National Institute of Health many adults drink moderately and responsibly without complications, and there are indications from research that some can derive modest health benefits. At the same time, alcohol-related problems which result from drinking too much, too fast, or too often are among the most significant public health issues in the Unites States and internationally.

For those who find that their drinking patterns are above the recommended limits, cutting back or quitting can have significant health benefits. People who reduce their drinking decrease their risks for injuries, liver and heart disease, depression, stroke, sexually transmitted diseases, and several types of cancers.

According to a 2009 study released by the University of Minnesota and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention titled “Binge drinking in the military,” 43 percent of more than 16,000 military members polled admitted to binge drinking during the past month.

In an article published on, titled “Startling Numbers of Active Military Personel Engaging in Frequent Binge Drinking,” the first author of the study remarked about the significance of these results.

“Our study clearly shows that binge drinking is a significant public health problem in the military, which is dangerous to both the drinkers and to those around them,” said Mandy Stahre, Master of Public Health, a doctoral candidate in alcohol epidemiology. “It also underscores the importance of implementing effective strategies to prevent underage and binge drinking, such as maintaining and enforcing the age 21 minimum legal drinking age.”

All Airmen are familiar with the Air Force’s policies against driving under the influence and drinking underage as well as its alcohol abuse prevention program: 0-0-1-3. This program means Airmen commit to 0 underage drinking incidents, 0 drinking and driving incidents, 1 drink per hour, and no more than 3 drinks per evening and the consequences that follow such behavior.

If you are addicted to or abuse alcohol, do not feel embarrassed when seeking help.

“Getting treatment has done a lot of good for me,” said Senior Airman Matthew Parton, the 19th Logistic Readiness Squadron technical order distribution officer. “Not just in the realm of drinking, but you realize that when you have a problem, there are 100 other things pushing that problem. When you start to get to the root of that, you begin to feel better. Now I know I don’t have to drink to feel better or to be social.”

For other Airmen who have had a bad moment of judgment and feel like there’s no way up, Parton expressed that anyone can recover from a bad mistake.

Parton said there is absolutely no shame in asking for help.

“Everybody in the world has a problem with something, said Parton. I have gotten more respect for being honest with my problem and treating it than I ever got from not saying anything to anybody. There are so many sources for help. Don’t be too proud.”

If you are having a problem with alcohol addiction or abuse there are several outlets to turn to on base for help such as the Alcohol Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment clinic (501-987-7338), your First Sergeant, the chapel (501-987-6014) or even a Wingman.

TOP STORY>>Airmen must revalidate dependents for BAH

By Staff Sgt. Jessica Condit
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Airman stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base must provide their servicing finance office with documentation for all dependents as part of Air Force audit readiness efforts.

This one-time, Air Force-wide recertification process will allow the Air Force to validate Airmen’s basic allowance for housing entitlements, ensuring every dollar of the $5.4 billion the Air Force spends annually on BAH is fully auditable.

“When we say the Air Force is not audit compliant, that doesn’t mean that money is missing or being misspent,” said Doug Bennett, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial operations. “Generally, it means that we lack the required documentation for our spending to be considered auditable. In the case of BAH, we need Airmen’s marriage certificates, birth certificates for children and divorce decrees that require child support properly documented by our finance offices to ensure we can audit $5.4 billion in Air Force spending.”

Beginning this month and continuing through December, Air Force finance offices will contact Airmen across the total force by email to notify them of their responsibility to provide dependent documentation. Their finance office will tell them exactly which documents are required. Additionally, Airmen who recently provided documentation may not be required to do so again. Airmen should wait to be notified by their finance offices rather than bringing in documentation unsolicited, Bennett said. Waiting to receive notification will eliminate unnecessary duplication of effort for some Airmen.

Once notified, Airmen will have 30 days to provide the required documents to their servicing finance office or have their housing allowance status reduced to single-rate. Deployed Airmen and those on extended leave or temporary duty will be given special consideration in meeting the 30-day deadline.

The push for revalidation of dependent documentation comes as the Air Force prepares to meet financial improvement and audit readiness requirements laid out in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act. The Air Force currently retains dependent documentation for six years, which is insufficient to meet audit readiness requirements. This one-time revalidation will ensure Air Force compliance with audit requirements, Bennett said.

“America entrusts the Air Force not only to spend taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently, but also to account and justify that expenditure,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III in a recent memo. “Preparation for this important and legislatively-mandated effort rests in the hands of every Airman, not just the financial community.”

Although revalidation of Airmen’s dependents will be a one-time recertification, Airmen will continue to play a vital role in the Air Force’s audit readiness. Starting in 2015, independent auditors will visit work stations for Airmen to review processes, procedures and transactions that directly impact the Air Force’s financial statements.

“Ensuring we have the proper documentation to account for every expenditure in a very large budget is a difficult but essential effort,” said Dr. Jamie Morin, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller. “Becoming audit ready will help us demonstrate to the American public that we are responsible stewards of taxpayer money at a time when we must make every dollar count.”

For questions regarding the BAH certification, please contact Senior Airman Arielle Wilson at (501) 987-5126.

TOP STORY>>AF updates officer, enlisted voluntary force management eligibility lists

By Debbie Gildea
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – Select Airmen in specific categories who were not formerly eligible for fiscal year 2014 force management voluntary separation are now being offered voluntary separation. These individuals will not be subject to involuntary programs in FY14.

Officers from 33 Air Force specialty codes by year group and enlisted Airmen from seven AFSCs by grade are now eligible to apply for voluntary force management programs, such as voluntary separation pay, limited active duty service commitment waivers and more, Air Force Personnel Center officials said today. In addition, officers in 70 AFSCs by year group and enlisted members in 178 AFSCs by grade are no longer eligible to apply for voluntary programs, and they will not meet an involuntary board in FY14.

As with all voluntary force management programs, being eligible to apply does not guarantee that an Airman will be approved, said Col. Joe Atkins, operations division chief. Air Force mission needs will determine how many Airmen are approved.

The changes are the result of already approved retirements and separations, as well as adjustments to the overall manpower requirements, said Atkins.

“After recalculations and taking into consideration voluntary separations and retirements, it was clear that personnel reductions were no longer necessary in some AFSC year groups,” he said.

Go to to see the officer AFSCs by year group added to the eligibility list.

Go to to see the officer AFSCs by year group removed from the eligibility list.

Go to to see the enlisted AFSCs by grade added to the eligibility list.

Go to to see the enlisted AFSCs by grade removed from the eligibility list.

For more information about fiscal year 2014 force management programs and other personnel issues, including the updated eligibility matrices, visit the myPers website at To get to the force management page, select “Search All Components” in the keyword drop down menu, and enter “Active Duty: FY14 Force Management Program” in the search window.

TOP STORY>>FM program waiver authority expanded

By Debbie Gildea
Air Force Personnel Center
Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – The Air Force Personnel Center has been granted expanded waiver authority to waive some active duty service commitments for Airmen interested in voluntary separation under the fiscal year 2014 force management program, AFPC officials announced today.

“For example, we now have the authority to waive aviation retention pay (which requires recoupment of the unserved portion of the bonus) and up to 72 months of an undergraduate flying training ADSCs,” said Col. Joe Atkins, operations division chief.

The expanded waiver authority also allows AFPC to waive up to 36 months of advanced flying training (to include instructor and qualification training) ADSCs, up to 36 months of Air Force Institute of Technology ADSC, up to 24 months of medical residency training ADSC, and up to 48 months of medical special pays and bonuses (which requires recoupment of the unserved portion of the bonus). The full list of waiver authorities is available on myPers.

The Palace Chase program is one of many voluntary programs affected by expanded waiver authority. AFPC can facilitate more Airmen interested in applying for Palace Chase to continue their service in the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard.

Voluntary separation pay and Temporary Early Retirement Authority are also among several voluntary separation and retirement programs included in FY14 force management. The VSP application window closes May 1, so Airmen restricted by waiver-required ADSCs may now be eligible to apply for VSP, said Atkins. In addition, because the TERA window ended, the Air Force will announce plans to open another TERA window to ensure those previously affected Airmen have an opportunity to apply for a voluntary program.

Additional guidance for Airmen affected by the waiver authority will be available next week when updated voluntary separation pay and Temporary Early Retirement Authority personnel service delivery memorandums are posted to myPers.

For more information about voluntary separation options and other personnel issues, visit the myPers website at Enter “FY14 Force Management Program” in the search window.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

TOP STORY>>What happens in Vegas stays online

By 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Now more than ever, information travels instantly. People have countless outlets to support causes, express opinions and flat out rant via social media...and that’s a good thing.

“Social media is a revolutionary communication tool,” said 2nd Lt. Amanda Porter, 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs officer. “It has the capacity to be a force multiplier of any message – good, bad, or ugly. In PA, we use it as a means to tell the story of our Airmen and the Air Force.”

But when military members and Department of Defense civilians engage on social media in their personal capacity, they should be mindful that even in the virtual world, you are still a member of the armed forces. Therefore you remain accountable for statements you make and the photos you take and post.

A lot of attention has been drawn to what military members post on social media in the wake of Staff Sgt. Cherish Byers, a 92nd Security Forces Squadron from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., posing with her tongue in the mouth of the prisoner of war depicted on the iconic black and white POW/MIA emblem and posting it online. Just because you are the owner of your personal Facebook page, that doesn’t mean it’s private or hidden from the rest of the world.

“You have to consider how your post can be interpreted by the public,” said Porter. “What may seem like an inside joke to you and your friends could ultimately have a detrimental impact to your career. Any time you engage in social media, you’re representing the Air Force.”

According to the public affairs office in coordination with base legal officials, here is some of the best advice.

Watch what you say and post on Facebook, or your favorite social networking platform. When you post something on social media, you can’t “get it back.” In recent cases of social media faux pas, the photo in question was taken years ago but resurfaced. The statute of limitations on any post in question is five years. That means you can be held accountable for something 5 years ago.

Be cautious about crossing the line between funny and distasteful. If you have doubts about whether you should post something, err on the side of caution.

“Stay in your lane,” said Porter. “It’s common advice from public affairs, but Airmen have to remember, they may be the only contact a friend or a family member has ever had with someone in the military. So you have to differentiate between your opinion and that of the Air Force.”

All military members must be mindful that words or conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, or words and conduct that are prejudicial to good order and discipline, are punishable under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

According to Little Rock AFB legal officials, this may include the use of disparaging or derogatory words directed towards the President and other civilian leadership. The more public the forum, the more likely it is the words or conduct will be considered service discrediting or to the prejudice of good order and discipline. In accordance with Article 88, UCMJ, it is unlawful for commissioned officers to use contemptuous language towards the President, Vice President, or Congress, by name or by clear reference.

Posting online does not grant you immunity from comments you didn’t verbally utter. According to base legal officials, posting comments on Facebook is the same as saying it. Posting offensive and/or disparaging photographs or links is the same as posting comments because they are attributable to the one who posted it. Keep in mind that on Facebook, the audience is potentially much larger. This means the effects of your posts may have more significant consequences.

“You are an Airman 24/7,” said Porter. “This rolls over to when you are at home scrolling through your Facebook feed or reading the Chive. So, the bottom line is simple – You are personally responsible for what you say and therefore post on social media and any other platform.”

If anyone has questions or concerns about Facebook posting and other social media rules, contact Public Affairs at (501) 987-3434 or seek advice from the base OPSEC Manager, Master Sgt. Jeremy Scott, at (501) 987-6585.

TOP STORY>>TRX: Expeditionary force trainer helps Airmen stay fit to fight

By Staff Sgt. Jessica Condit
19th Airlift Wing, Public Affairs

Airmen at Little Rock Air Force Base now have another avenue to maintain their fit-to-fight lifestyle. Along with gym access 24/7, Airmen now have the opportunity to use the TRX Expeditionary Force Trainer to maintain their physical fitness.

The 19th Force Support Squadron in partnership with the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron and the 19th Contracting Squadron are providing the TRX Expeditionary Force Trainer, located at the Warfit Pavilion, in order to provide more options for physical fitness.

The contents of the box consist of barbells, bumper plates, medicine balls, kettle bells, TRX strap kits, TRX RIP trainers, sand bags, battling ropes and much more. The program will encourage Airmen to build strength using different exercises and tools associated with the program.

While the fitness tools are available, a sign-up process is required to utilize, maintain and monitor the equipment daily. Only a unit physical training leader or unit fitness program manager can reserve the site. The site can be reserved only one day in advancethrough the fitness center front desk.

The key to the box will only be signed out to PTLs/UFPMs who are registered with the Fitness Assessment Cell by appointment letter. While the key is in the units’ possession, the unit is responsible for all contents of the TRX container. Upon the return of the key, an inventory will be conducted by the unit to ensure all equipment is accounted for. In addition, inventory checks will be conducted by fitness staff each day.

For more information on the TRX program or to enquire about reservation dates, contact the base fitness center at (501) 987-7716.

TOP STORY>>Why I am a victim’s advocate

By Senior Airman Regina Agoha
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

When I was sophomore through senior in college, I became a peer-tutor mentor, which was a student that helped freshman smoothly transition from high school to their first year of college in any way that was needed.

While performing the duties as a mentor, a door was opened for me to have the unique privilege and unexpected chance to become an unofficial victim’s advocate.

I say unofficial because I did not go to training, there were no certifications, and I never had an actual case.

Men and women from my college just saw something in me and felt comfortable enough to open up and tell me their terrible stories of sexual assault, whether recent or years old, and I was honored and willing to listen and help.

These experiences unlocked something in me and prepared me for an event that would come a little later in my college career and for what I’m doing now in my military career.

One night as I was eating dinner with my roommate, I received a call from another college student. The call went something like this, “hey, you might want to get to the male dorm room. One of your freshman girls is drunk and in a room alone with about seven basketball players.”

We dropped everything and got to the dorms as soon as possible. As my roommate grabbed some guys who were standing outside to help her retrieve this freshman, I pulled the car up as close as I could to the exit door of the dorm.

When this freshman was carried downstairs, her shirt was ripped, exposing her torn bra, and though she was awake, she was completely unaware of her actions or surroundings.

My roommate and I took her to our dorm room, where we cleaned her up, tried to figure out what happened and just listened to anything she wanted to say.

While my roommate slept, I watched the freshman all night as she would fall asleep and wake back up constantly. I skipped my morning class the next day and cared for her until she was sober.

What happened that night?

This freshman, who never had an alcoholic drink in her life, trusted that the older, sophomore female “friend” she was hanging out with would take care of her. They both drank a lot alcohol before going to the male dorm, which is against the rules. The freshman later told me that she was left in a room filled with men who thought they would have their way with this poor girl.

She remembered certain faces and names but couldn’t remember if she had sexual contact with any of them and of course when questioned, they all denied it. But what she did remember was enough for anyone to become sick to their stomach. She was indeed sexually assaulted, but we never found out to what extent.

Because she was ashamed, afraid and blamed herself for going there, she didn’t do anything about what happened to her. She even rejected being medically examined because she just wanted to forget. So, I called her mom, who was the only person she wanted to inform, and that was that.

I think about that night often and parts of me wonder if there was more I could have done. The other part is honored that out of all the peer-tutor mentors at school, someone thought enough of me to feel like I was the one who would handle thesituation appropriately.

Moving forward four years later, as soon as I came to Little Rock Air Force Base and heard there was an opportunity to be a victim’s advocate officially, I jumped on it. I did the training, I got the certifications, I’ve handled some cases, and it has been extremely fulfilling.

The definition of an advocate is someone who speaks or pleads in supports or on the behalf of a person or a cause. I like being a victim’s advocate because we just need to be there. Just show up and listen. You don’t have to say a word. You don’t have to know what happened to be supportive for someone. You offer your time and your ear to a person in need.

Sometimes it requires more and that’s why we are trained and prepared. Other times, the most powerful action can be a simple smile, holding someone’s hand as they walk into court or just listening.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Remember, if you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault there are many avenues for you to receive adequate help and support. The chaplains are here, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator is here, Special Victims’ Counsel is here and we, victim’s advocates are here.

The SARC is available 24/7 at (501) 987- SARC.

TOP STORY>>The Diamond Experience

By Master Sgt. Eric Pelican
19th Comptroller Squadron

Have you ever sat in your unit wondering, “Who can I talk to about this issue, or how is my unit allowing this to happen?”

Ever thought to yourself, “I would never handle an issue that way”?

Well, I can recall being that person a time or two. It wasn’t until I actually tried to be part of the solution, approached my first sergeant about an issue and heard him respond, “I’m working it,” did I realize, “wow, they really do know what is going on in the unit.”

I was shocked to know that my first sergeant was way more involved behind the scenes than I would’ve imagined. It reminded me of how investigators work. It inspired me, and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a first sergeant!

A first sergeant is a pivotal member in the unit and is engaged with everything their unit commander is faced with, preventing issues before they become life changing.

Depending on your perspective, you may feel like first sergeants only address discipline issues, but that’s a small piece. They are constantly advocating on your behalf when it comes to quality of life, health and morale issues, and recognition opportunities.

Not everyone receives the opportunity to become a first sergeant. And it is not a job that’s taken lightly. Training is required before someone can wear the diamond, because with that comes a lot of responsibility.

The First Sergeant Academy does an awesome job of preparing future diamonds for their duty. The academy hosts a four-week distance learning course and a two-week, in residence course at Gunter Annex, Ala. All classes are of the total force method which really expands your knowledge base because of the vast experience levels across different branches of service.

What makes a good first sergeant?

I remember being deployed when rumors began to circulate about changes to our return date. That rumor quickly made its way back to the base, and families began to get worried. As you could imagine, the phone calls home became very uneasy and almost dreadful.

My family members had no idea how to handle this news, as I was sustaining the war-fighter mindset and not divulging any information. As expected, this did not put my family at ease in the slightest. Finally, one day, I told my supervisor about the situation, and he mentioned contacting the first sergeant.

My initial thought was, what is he going to do? But I did it anyway. A week later I was shocked to find out my first sergeant and his wife went to comfort my family in my absence, and it made a world of difference.

To this day, I believe his actions saved my career and family from being destroyed. He was able to provide a side of the military that I had not seen or needed before and that was that families matter. To me, he is the best first sergeant I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. I aspire to leave that impression with the Airmen and families I have come to know as a first sergeant.

Your perceptions of the first sergeant or what makes a good one will vary. Beneath their exterior, they are truly a group of people that care about you.

This year the Air Force saw me as a candidate for this extraordinary duty and I earned my diamond. I can only hope to have the same lasting impact in an Airman’s life as my past first sergeant had in mine. I am proud to be a DIAMOND!

TOP STORY>>Air Advisors train Afghan pilots and maintainers

By Senior Master Sgt. Gary J. Rihn
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) – Afghan pilots and aircraft maintainers are a vital part of the Afghan National Air Force and increase its operational capabilities, and with the aid of a group of U.S. advisors, they are making huge strides in that direction.

“This is the Lackland or Sheppard Air Force Base of Afghanistan. It is the premier flight training facility in the region for these guys,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jim Ritchie, senior enlisted air advisor at Shindand Airfield.

“Iraq had an existing Air Force, Afghanistan did not, so we’re helping them build it from the ground up,” added Ritchie. “It all starts here with education.”

The team of advisors is responsible for teaching the Afghan students everything from the basics of the English language to piloting skills and how to maintain and repair the aircraft on their own.

Tech. Sgt. Ann Collantes, deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. stresses to her students that these will be their aircraft, and that they need to be proficient at working on them by themselves.

“We’re not here to maintain your aircraft for you. Weare here now to help you learn to do it,” Collantes told her students.

The advisors start with the basics and build upon a solid foundation.

“This is a very young Afghan Air Force, and very impressionable. We are guiding them from the ground up on aviation,” said Tech. Sgt. Thornton Gallinore, a fixed wing aviation advisor from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.

“They are making lots of progress and showing lots of promise, but there’s still a long way to go in the time we have left. Building their confidence is a key objective right now, so that we can eventually leave them with success for many years down the road,” he added.

As the Afghan students learn, the advisors watch, guide, and evaluate their progress they also keep upping the level of responsibility as the Afghans prove their competence.

“The maintenance portion is not really a problem anymore. We are now concentrating on teaching bigger picture items like timelines, deadlines and schedules to keep the aircraft flying,” said Staff Sgt. Roger Brown, a rotary wing maintenance advisor deployed from Moody Air Force Base, Ga. “Success is happening; every day they are doing more, and that’s our goal. They are showing us that they are capable of working towards something, that our work is paying off, and they have a great chance to succeed.”