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Heart of the Air Force beats strong with Unite

By Tech. Sgt. Ave I. Young | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | July 3, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —

The 502nd Air Base Wing’s command section is the first Joint Base San Antonio unit to take advantage of the Unite program by hosting a resiliency day at JBSA-Canyon Lake on June 11.

The intent of the Unite program is to provide commanders and their underlying units with the flexibility to develop and deliver programs that build cohesion for all Airmen. This includes assigned active duty and appropriated funds/non-appropriated funds civilians.

“In 2016, Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, sent out a letter to Airmen stating that the beating heart of the Air Force is the squadron,” said Adriana Holmes, 502nd ABW community cohesion coordinator. “He tasked the Air Force Services Center to come up with a program to enrich squadron leaders and assist in team building and unit cohesion. We’re getting back down to the squadrons and revitalizing them.”

Although the Unite program emphasizes squadrons, it remains available to all levels of command. Supervisors ranging from flight leader, director, to commander are all able to petition their designated liaison for event support.

“With servicemembers and personnel working between multiple locations in JBSA, coordinating a squadron-inclusive event can be difficult,” Holmes said. “We encourage squadron level participation but are equally ready to support unit-level functions.”

Units and squadrons can choose from free, volunteer and force support squadron programs. Cohesion coordinators can help with funding for food and also connect unit points of contact with activity coordinators to plan and execute these events.

As luck would have it, the Unite program became staffed and trained just as the 502nd command section was organizing a much anticipated resiliency day.

“We were already arranging portions of the event and realized there was even more we could offer via Unite,” said Ashley Lopez, 502nd ABW community cohesion coordinator. “Ultimately, we were excited to have leadership pilot the program and hope their buy-in will build interest among other leaders.”

“I think the Unite program is perfect for us because we’re geographically separated as a wing. It’s a great opportunity for us to truly unite and spend some time together outside the office to rebuild and revitalize our work center,” said Brig. Gen. Laura Lenderman, 502nd ABW and JBSA commander.

“To request Unite funding, a commander will appoint a POC that will be the liaison between their unit, us and activity coordinators,” Lopez said. “They can submit a request form that is available online at http://JBSAtoday.com or they can email us directly.

“It’s important to get out of the office and actually get to know people and build relationships, because you probably don’t do that very well in cubicles,” said Capt. Nathan Spradley, 502nd ABW commander’s action group. “It’s good to get out and bond. It’s a really good stress reliever.”

For joint units like the 502nd ABW command section, private organization funds may be used to supplement funding for non-Air Force members. Family members are welcome to participate, but they must pay any associated fees.

To contact 502nd ABW community cohesion coordinators, email usaf.jbsa.502-abw.mbx.unite-program@mail.mil, or call 210-328-9020 or 210-267-7358.