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Feedback Fridays

By Brig. Gen. Laura L. Lenderman | 502d Air Base Wing Commander | July 26, 2019

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas —

Feedback Fridays is a weekly forum that aims to connect the 502d Air Base Wing with members of the Joint Base San Antonio community. Questions are collected during commander’s calls, town hall meetings and throughout the week.

If you have a question or concern, please send an email to RandolphPublicAffairs@us.af.mil using the subject line “Feedback Fridays.” Questions will be further researched and published as information becomes available.

Personnel Issues

Q. I was under the impression that part of the joint basing objective was to provide the same services and/or the main services at each main location for military, family members and Department of Defense members.

Why did the 502nd Comptroller Squadron remove Defense Travel System, or DTS, services from Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston and JBSA-Randolph? There are no DTS lead defense travel administrators, or LDTAs, at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and JBSA-Randolph to assist the Organizational Defense Travel Administrators, or ODTAs, military, and DOD members. There used to be one at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, but they removed the person and sent them to JBSA-Lackland.

As the ODTAs, we are supposed to contact them for assistance prior to calling the DTS helpdesk. The 502nd CPTS LDTAs wants you to just use their workflow box, which I do, but some questions are simple and need an immediate answer.

The majority of the time, I just send a ticket to the DTS helpdesk because I can get an answer from them faster than from my local office but when I do call the JBSA-Lackland office the line just rings, and I let it ring until I’m automatically disconnected. If I can’t reach them after several attempts, I call one of my colleagues and ask them to walk up to their office for an answer to my situation. 

This is the second time I am submitting this issue (first time through ICE). Please place at least one DTS LDTA or have a military member that can provide the same service of the LDTA at each location. Thank you for your consideration.

A. Thank you very much for your question. Our intent is to provide a world class customer service experience to every customer and we depend on honest feedback to identify opportunities for improvement. While we can’t address specifics to your scenario in this forum, we want you and all customers to know that ICE surveys are the perfect way to identify both positive attributes and improvement areas.

If you request a response, our staff will analyze the unique situation and respond in kind.

Now back to the issue. We have several challenges when it comes to timeliness: voucher volume (30,000 vouchers year), internal manpower fluctuations (compounded by separation of duties requirements), network downtime and customer education, just to name a few.

As you can imagine, a backlog of vouchers compounds all other issues because the same individuals who process vouchers also respond to customer inquiries. Traditionally, we have addressed these challenges by surging manpower, increasing duty hours, and realigning personnel to meet demand (when manpower is available).

The root cause is actually something that you have accurately depicted … obtaining accurate and complete data from the customer on the first try. Quite simply, DTS vouchers take so long, because approximately 85 percent of the vouchers are returned for corrections.

Those returned vouchers create wasted process time because the voucher often remains stagnant before being readdressed by the customer, then waits in line behind all the vouchers finance has received since it was last touched.

So what does all this mean and what are we doing about it? It means we need to do a better job of providing training tools to DTS users and ODTAs. We’re currently developing a customer facing, but ODTA-focused, SharePoint site that provides training curriculum necessary to assist customers in providing accurate vouchers on the front end, thereby, decreasing processing time, improving customer experience and bolstering Airman and Joint Partner readiness.

It’ll take more than just a providing SharePoint site, and our team will be conducting assistance visits with ODTAs to improve the disbursed skill sets necessary to serve our distributed population. Every player in the DTS/Travel process has a role to play in system success.

While it won’t be immediate, with training and collaborative effort from each person in the process, we will remedy travel voucher delays. Thanks again for your question and the opportunity to respond. A link to ICE can be found at https://ice.disa.mil/index.cfm?fa=card&sp=109438.

Installation & Facilities

Q. My family and I decided to go to JBSA-Canyon Lake on the military side and noticed that they never seem to have handicap portable latrines for those with wheel chairs. The regular portable latrines are not wide enough to accommodate a wheel chair even for a child.

A. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I really appreciate it.

This is an oversight on our part which we can easily correct. JBSA-Canyon Lake management is coordinating with the Civil Engineers to provide handicap accessible port-a-lets to the recreational park as soon as possible.

I believe during your next experience out at JBSA-Canyon Lake, you will find that we better support you and your family with accessible restroom options.  

Q. Why is the JBSA-Randolph pool not handicap friendly?

A. Thank you for your question as we strive to make all facilities inclusive to all customers. At JBSA-Randolph, both swim pools have operational chair lifts that will support customers who need physical assistance getting in and out of the water. The lifeguards are trained to use the lift and will assist anyone with the process to enter and exit out the pool.

This question has sparked some additional concerns about making the entire area more accessible; therefore, the 502nd Force Support Squadron and CES will ensure they conduct a full review and initiate necessary improvements to ensure these recreational area are handicapped accessible.

Q. The handicapped stall in the men’s restroom of building 1052 at JBSA-Lackland has been out of order for more than six months. I have pinged our ranking facilities person twice with limited response. CE work orders changed to a new system and are backed up.

I suffered an injury downrange that effected my lower back, wherein at times, I cannot stand up without assistance. Today I was stuck in the restroom again, unable to raise myself.

We do have a private restroom, however, in this day and age of technology it presents itself with a great place to watch TV and play games.

A. Thank you very much for bringing this issue to light. I sincerely apologize for the time it’s taken for us to repair the handicap accessible bathroom stall in your building and the physically challenges it’s caused you and others in your building.

The good news is that the toilet is now repaired; however, we need to do better. Generally, when a single toilet goes down in a multi-stall restroom the work is scheduled for routine repair which can sometimes take time to accomplish. However, when it is a handicap accessible stall, CE will classify the work as emergency or urgent due to the immediate impact on users.

In this instance, the handicap concern was not initially identified or recognized as a factor. Once this element was brought to light, CE responded and identified the issue as a leaking flush valve. They completed the repair and then followed up with the facility manager to close out.

In order to reduce the chances of this reoccurring, CE will highlight the issue during their facility manager training to ensure ADA concerns are elevated, as well as ensure that CE Customer Service reps ask the question if not stated up front.

Additionally, CE is working on a number of initiatives to help increase their workforce capacity and therefore improve service to our customers. The new system you referenced in your question, TRIRIGA, is just one of those initiatives, though it is recognized that it has created some interim challenges as all new systems generally do.

Miscellaneous

Q. I have gone to many JBSA events/ceremonies where the Army song, Navy song and the Air Force song are always played.

There several Marines stationed at JBSA, and there are numerous retired Marines who are now civilians working throughout JBSA. Is it possible when the services songs are played at JBSA events/ceremonies that the Marine’s Hymn is also included? Or, maybe the Armed Forces medley be played?

A. Thank you for your question regarding the playing of service songs at various events and ceremonies across JBSA.

We value the service of the men and women across all of our branches of military. We will work with our team and our mission partners to ensure we’re recognizing all of the services represented across JBSA as often as possible.

Of note, when the Air Force Band of the West performs the service songs, it is the band’s standard practice to perform all service songs at community events: “The Army Goes Rolling Along”; “The Marine’s Hymn”; “Anchor’s Aweigh”; “The U.S. Air Force Song”; and Coast Guard “Semper Paratus.”

Additionally, when performing specifically for veteran’s events, we will perform the official song of the U.S. Merchant Marine, “Heave Ho! My Lads, Heave Ho!”

When performing in a ceremonial function, such as a change of command or a retirement, the service songs performed are determined by the service involvement in the ceremony and the proper protocol recognizing those represented.

For the joint environment that we are accustomed to across JBSA, Army Regulation AR220-90 is our guidance for ceremonial musical support.

Q. Last Friday, I attended the Basic Military Training graduation ceremony at JBSA-Lackland with former co-workers from my Air Force career. They brought families to visit and cherish the memories and ceremonies of Lackland Air Force Base.

After the ceremony, we walked around to the dorms on the Valley Hi gate area. The question was asked by my friends pertaining to why there are 13 portable latrines assigned to the dorms, including other BMT buildings.

They commented about what’s happening to our young Airmen today and expressed their feeling of past histories when they graduated from those buildings. He said, there were no portable latrines when they were assigned to BMT – Airmen had time to go inside to use the facilities.

Thank you to you and your friends for your service and for supporting BMT graduation events. JBSA-Lackland has a rich history, and I’m happy you were able to visit the campus.

We spoke with our partners in the 37th Training Wing regarding the portable latrines near the BMT Recruit Housing and Training Complexes, and we learned they are placed there for use by trainees during PT or during parade practice on Saturdays. During PT on the PT pad, if a trainee needs to use the restroom, the portable latrines afford them the opportunity without having to go back to the dorms.

In the training environment, it is a real timesaver to allow our trainees to use the facilities at the area where they are training as opposed to taking 15 minutes to use the facilities inside of their dorm. With 41,000 trainees assessed every year, the time savings really adds up. Thank you again for your question and thank you especially for your service.