We hear you loud and clear

  • Published
  • By Col. Bill Bender
  • 319th Air Refueling Wing Commander
In early February, I asked wing members to participate in a wing climate assessment (WCA) by filling out a 50-question survey concerning many important issues that affect our wing, our Airmen and their families. Over a one-week period, 530 Warriors of the North (approximately 20 percent of the wing) took advantage of this opportunity to offer their honest, unfiltered feedback. 

The result was more than 60 pages of comments - some good, some bad, but all important. 

Let me begin this week’s “How Goes It” by saying thank you to those of you who took time to complete the survey and to share your thoughts concerning our wing. Your willingness to share ideas about what we could be doing better, as well as your many good suggestions for improvement, was exactly what I hoped the WCA would provide. Now, I want to provide feedback to you regarding what we learned. Also, I’d like to offer my thoughts and perspectives as the wing commander, so that you understand where I stand on some very important issues. 

For those of you who participated, and even for those who didn't, you should know that wing leaders at all levels reviewed all the results and read every single comment. My point is, what you have to say is important - we hear you loud and clear. Overall, our wing’s climate is positive and things are going well. That's not to say there aren’t plenty of stressors and things to be concerned about, but without exception favorable ratings outweighed unfavorable ratings. Whether we’re talking about job environments, wing recognition programs, or unit leadership, the majority responded positively. 

I was especially pleased to learn that peer relationships are strong and that all but a few (8 percent) feel they are a valued member of their work team. A strong majority of respondents also said members within their units help one another with problems and that the work load is shared fairly. Likewise, unit leadership rated highly in all areas (70 to 80 percent). Most impressively, nearly everyone reported their unit commander's policies on suicide awareness and prevention, sexual harassment and discrimination are clear and understood. Across the board, wing members believe they are free to address concerns and that they are treated fairly, free from all forms of discrimination.
As with any large organization, there are areas of concern that need more attention. In reading the survey comments, there were certain areas that respondents brought up repeatedly and that clearly expressed dissatisfaction. To name just a few; manning shortages, skill level imbalances, low morale, high stress due to deployments and high OPSTEMPO, perceived inequalities regarding recognition, family support for our deployed members, and poor unit fitness programs were assessed to be areas where the wing could do better. Rest assured wing leadership will dig deeper into these concerns and, where it is within our authority and ability to do so, make the needed improvements. Should it work out that fixes are not possible or practical, I'll be sure to provide that feedback too. 

Finally, I’d like to once again thank all of the Warriors of the North, as well as their families, for all of their hard work and sacrifices to support this wing and our important missions. Words cannot express how great a privilege I consider it to be your commander at such an important time like this, when our nation is at war. Our wing is making a difference in a troubled world - and you're making a difference for our wing.