Wingman Day: Targeted training here to stay
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Wing officials debuted a new format for its most recent Wingman Day and the overwhelmingly positive feedback they received means it's here to stay.
Lisa Velez, 18th Wing community support coordinator and event project officer, said the goal is to hold a similar event annually.
Velez said she believes the Nov. 21 Wingman Day was so successful - more than 5,000 Team Kadena members participated - because people were given a choice. Actually, they were given a lot of choices, to include 27 different classes, 13 immersion experiences and a Head-2-Toe Wellness Expo with 25 various information booths and demonstrations.
Offering that many options wasn't easy, but it was what the community wanted and it was possible due in a large part to the commitment of numerous agencies, Velez said.
"We listened," Velez said. "We, as a collective community and as a command, listened to what the Airmen wanted. They wanted something that gave them a choice."
All of the options that day helped address one of the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness: spiritual, physical, mental and social. Classes ranged from stress and risk management to better communication, from learning to save for a child's college education to the threat of social media, and more. The goal was to take Comprehensive Airman Fitness from something to be taught to something that could be incorporated into the daily lives of the Kadena community.
One of the options was a Caring for People Forum during which community members and subject-matter experts gathered to discuss responsible drinking and the emergency placement care of adolescent youth.
Velez said that forum provides a great way to seek "grassroots solutions" for community concerns.
She said the immersion classes were also wildly popular, and allowed Team Kadena members to explain their own role in the crucially important mission at the base.
"When you consider that we are all a part of this huge community, and that we may not necessarily understand what everyone does, you can see why this was so important," Velez said of the immersion classes. "Every Airman has a critical role to play and this allowed them to showcase their pride in ownership of their mission."
Velez said dozens of volunteers helped make the day a success, but singled out three Airmen from the 18th Communications Squadron for building, updating and maintaining the Sharepoint site that allowed that many people to sign up for Wingman Day. She said Staff Sgt. Trent Harland, Staff Sgt. Aimmee Duremdez and Airman 1st Class Vashiti Brown, embodied "excellence in all we do."
Looking toward next year's event, Velez wants to ensure we continue to target the training to what the community needs. And from the feedback she's already received, they want more immersion experiences.
Chief Master Sgt. Alexander Garcia, from the 18th Force Support Squadron, lauded the initiative, and the options, saying it was a great way to drive home the message of resiliency.
"Great concept, military are more receptive when they pick their own courses," Garcia said. "You get buy-in from Airmen when they have the option to choose their course. I received lots of positive feedback from my Airmen, they truly enjoyed the event."
Velez said she'll continue to speak with Team Kadena, and with the commanders, to see how to build upon this year's success.
"People's time is very valuable," Velez said. "You want to make every moment resonate in cultivating their personal and professional resilience."