JOINT BASE SAN ANTNOIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
The inspector general’s office at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland is charged with facilitating the commander’s inspection program and operating the complaints resolutions program to help the mission continue successfully.
“Our primary mission is to investigate cases of reprisal or restriction,” said Samuel Nunez Jimenez, 37th Training Wing director of complaints and resolutions.
While complainants are encouraged to seek assistance through their chain of command first, Nunez says the IG office is always ready to help.
All cases are kept confidential. Department of Defense employees and contractors may also file a complaint. If a complainant feels their concern isn’t getting addressed by the chain of command, they have to option to contact the IG office.
“Once you have reported a wrongdoing, you are protected by the whistleblower’s protection act. If anybody takes any action against an individual reporting any wrongdoing, that’s called reprisal,” Nunez added.
Anytime someone experiences some kind of work conflict or wrongdoing, the IG office steps in to gather information with the hopes of getting some kind of resolution for the parties involved. Some examples include a toxic work environment, abuse of authority, inappropriate counseling, an erroneous evaluation or unfair disciplinary action.
“They go from reprisal all the way down to ‘my boss does not like me,’” Nunez said. “Sometimes people fear addressing their issues with the chain of command, so the IG offers a venue for them to address their issues with some sort of protection.”
If the request comes from a unit outside the IG’s responsibility, it is referred to the appropriate IG office to handle.
“We have to own the person or the program that the complaint is about,” said Eva Rutledge, 502nd Air Base Wing director of complaints and resolutions, who added their office handles about 100 complaints a year.
Once the complainant has found the right avenue to address and possibly resolve their issue, an investigation is conducted and a report is submitted to the appointing authority.
“We analyze it and if it’s something that’s the responsibility of the commander, we refer it to that command,” Nunez said. “If the Department of Defense approves the investigator’s findings, then the case is sent back to the unit and referred to command for action.”
While the complaints resolution side of the IG works on its fact-finding cases, the other side of the IG office is focused on inspections, conducting exercises and dealing with special interest items.
The wing inspections team is charged with looking at an item or items within a group or squadron to assure it is operating as it should be. An example would be unit training management. As part of that, they conduct horizontal inspections. They include physical training programs, records management and any other program that touches everyone in the wing.
There are also vertical inspections which assess a unit’s performance. The IG office validates a unit’s compliance in executing the mission, improving the unit, leading the people and managing resources.
“They submit a report to the wing commander to give them an idea of health, assessment and verification of where their wing is at as far as training,” Jimenez said.
The IG office also conducts exercise inspections to insure squadrons are ready for severe weather or natural disaster response.
“Readiness is huge,” Jimenez said. “IG’s are trained and focused on helping units without affecting their daily product or organizational flow.”
For both inspections and complaints resolutions the IG office has a sole purpose in mind.
“We’re not there to cause trouble or to point out deficiencies or problems; we’re there to help commanders solve the issues so their people are ready and their missions are being executed as directed,” Nunez said.