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Feedback Fridays

By Brig. Gen. Laura L. Lenderman | 502d Air Base Wing Commander | Aug. 23, 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.

Mold Issues

Q. Have you made it to Joint Base San Antonio-Canyon Lake? I went last weekend and there were dead bugs on floor, the ceiling fan was filthy and there was black mold in the showers.

A. Thanks for visiting our JBSA Recreation Park at Canyon Lake and providing us feedback on your stay.  

I apologize for the unacceptable conditions in your room. As a result of your comments and recent events, our Force Support Squadron leadership team performed a detailed inspection of all JBSA-Canyon Lake lodging units and restrooms, looking for any signs of mold or other unacceptable sanitation conditions.  

We are aggressively addressing any discrepancies found. We will also provide additional training to our housekeeping and maintenance teams, ensuring they remain vigilant at all times to cleanliness, insects, mold, etc. and immediately address any health or safety issues in the park.

We appreciate your business at JBSA-Canyon Lake and hope you’ll give us a second chance to meet your off-duty recreational needs.

Q. I am writing to you for a fellow Airman afraid of reprisal from management. The Airman’s dormitory had mold that was noticed by a routine dorm inspection in July.

After being reprimanded with no paperwork, the Airman was ordered to scrub all mold from his room. Later I was told that any visible mold was painted over.

This does not sit right with me and needs to be addressed and investigated in building 394 at JBSA-Randolph.

A. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The health and safety of our residents is my top priority. We are committed to addressing all mold remediation efforts in accordance with state and federal regulations.

In some cases, we are applying a protective mold retardant covering on the wall that prevents mold regrowth, and it may have been mistaken for paint.

Regardless, I asked our team to review the work accomplished in building 394 to ensure we are in compliance with the governing regulations. For additional information or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me or your dorm manger.

Q. We are very grateful to you all for the efforts in the dorms at JBSA-Lackland to have them safe for the trainees and airmen.

Our daughter’s tech school dorm firehouse has been without air conditioning for two weeks and we are so concerned with the extreme heat in San Antonio.

We would be so very grateful if crews could repair the air conditioning there at firehouse dorms at JBSA-Lackland. Blessings to all.

A. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I sincerely apologize your daughter’s experience in the dorms.

Our Civil Engineer team will coordinate with the technical training dorms facility manager to fix your daughter’s air conditioning unit or move her to a room with an operable unit.

For additional information or concerns, please let your daughter know to feel free to reach out to me or her military training leader.

Personnel Issues

Q. There was an incident that I suspect qualifies for waste and abuse of government employee(s) time and resources. The incident involved not just the Air Force, but another federal government agency.

My initial thoughts/reactions were, am I placing my family’s finances and my career in jeopardy knowing the individual is in upper management and confers regularly with the highest military grades within our organization?

Under Air Force Instruction 36-703- 210.4.1, Civilian Conduct & Responsibility, I paraphrase: “Employees have the right to bypass the process without going through their supervisors and report directly to the EEO or the IG.”

Unfortunately, the AFI cannot acknowledge the reality that civilians lack confidence in the process to adequately protect them from complaints that are submitted in good faith. This is especially pertinent when the individual is in upper management with audience in the upper levels of the organization.

Is it possible that we can be assured that our organization values integrity over position?

A. Employees (employee in the context includes military, civilian and non-appropriated fund employees) have the right to:
1) file an IG complaint without going through their supervisory channel,
2) file a complaint without the fear of reprisal, and
3) submit complaints anonymously.

Inspectors General at every level maintain a complaint hotline to assist anonymous filers. Additionally, in accordance with AFI 90-301, when the identity of a complainant is known, the IG shall not disclose the identity of the employee without the consent of the employee, unless the IG determines such disclosure is unavoidable during the course of an investigation. Consent is indicated in writing on the Air Force Form 102, Inspector General Complaint Form.

Those contemplating blowing the whistle on alleged wrongdoing are advised to understand the legal protections available. Whistleblower protection statutes provide certain rights and remedies for employees who make a protected disclosure and believe they have been reprised against because they made the disclosure.

For example, appropriated fund employees received protections under the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended. The law makes it illegal for any employee who has authority to take, direct others to take, recommend, or approve any personnel action, to take or threaten to take any action against any employee as a reprisal for making a complaint or disclosing information to an IG.

If you suffer reprisal for making a protected disclosure, you may file a reprisal complaint. Civilian and non-appropriated fund employees can file with the Department of Defense Hotline at https://www.dodig.mil/hotline.

Service members can file with their local IG. The complaint hotlines are:

SAF/IGQ Hotline
https://www.afinspectorgeneral.af.mil (option to submit complaint electronically)
1-800-538-8429

AETC/IGQ Hotline
210-652-4460

502 ABW/IGQ Hotline
210-808-1000

Q. If drills regarding the following message, “Exercise, Exercise, Exercise FPCON Delta has been directed for JBSA-Lackland, JBSA-Randolph and JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. Simulate appropriate security measures IMMEDIATELY. Again, simulate appropriate security measures IMMEDIATELY. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise” are going to be conducted, then all areas (including contractors and all affected personnel) should be included in the drill.

With only sporadic work centers involved/cooperating, the drill is not effective training or preparative in nature to affect a real scenario.

A. Thank you for supporting our exercise program and encouraging maximum participation. The goal of the installation exercise program is to enable units to hone and refine their execution of mission essential and supporting tasks.

As you know, mission readiness is inherently a commander’s responsibility at every level; the exercise program is here to validate training, improve response capabilities, and evaluate mission readiness. We follow the guidance provided in DOD Instruction 6055.17 when planning and conducting installation exercises.

For the exercise we conducted in June 2019, our scenario included an increase in FPCONs to FPCON Delta. We expected all units to participate with some exceptions. Some of those exceptions included contractors, unless participation is specified in their Performance Work Statement/Statement of Work (PWS/SOW).

Other exceptions include installation commander approved exercise simulations published with the exercise Operations Order, or OPORD, such as training operations, promotion testing, AAFES/DeCA, etc.

Our exercises are most successful when we have maximum participation so that we can identify areas of concern which provide us the opportunity to update plans/procedures and practice response procedures. 

Installation & Facilities

Q. Regarding the upcoming lowering of the inner circle speed limit from 25 mph to 15 mph at JBSA-Randolph, can you provide any details as to why? Was there any study done?

I understand the need to improve safety but lowering it to 15 mph seems excessive (a 40 percent reduction). Why not 20 mph?

A. Thank you for your concern referencing the speed limit change of the inner loop on JBSA-Randolph to 15 MPH.

The JBSA-Randolph Traffic Safety Coordination Working Group was asked to examine speed limits in the inner circle adjacent to base homes where residents were concerned about the safety of their children who live in those homes close to the road.

After several months of traffic study, the Traffic Safety Coordination Working Group, chaired by the JBSA-Randolph Executive Agent, determined that to enhance safety for the residents and children who live in those homes, the speed limit needed to be reduced from 25 mph to 15 mph.

The good news is this new speed limit only applies to the lane of traffic which flows clockwise and is nearest the homes. The speed limit on the lane of traffic flowing counterclockwise and furthest from the homes will remain 25 mph.

Traveling counterclockwise will allow drivers to reach their destination with little or no delay while creating a much safer environment for our housing community and children.

Q. This is a response to your response to my original question.

First of all, I have a hard time understanding why we can’t trust adults to look out for traffic and walk in the North New Braunfels Avenue gate at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. I have entered the non-pedestrian gates as a runner at early hours when it’s not totally light, and have had no issues.

There are so many soldiers constantly using the other gates, particularly the Walters and Harry Wurzbach gates, and those are not configured for pedestrians.

Do we have data that shows pedestrians have been hit at our gates? And if so, then we should immediately put pedestrian gates everywhere else.

However, even with that concern, I still believe the hours between the Wilson gate and N. New Braunfels pedestrian gate should be switched. Leaving the quadrangle by way of the New Braunfels regular gate, pedestrians do not ever have to cross the traffic. They can use the sidewalks to get to the crosswalk with the stoplight near the pedestrian gate.

Since the majority of pedestrians are leaving JBSA-Fort Sam Houston after 1 p.m., the pedestrian gate could be open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Wilson gate could be 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (or later).

Could we please put the Wilson gate hours back to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.? Hearing that funding is under discussion for an automated gate is not hopeful. I was a civil engineer in the military and I know how funding works (or doesn’t). By the time, a pedestrian gate is funded, anyone here who even remembers the Wilson gate being open will be long gone.

A: Thank you for your follow-up comment to your original question.

Pedestrian safety and traffic flow entering and exiting the installation quickly is a definite priority. I understand your thoughts regarding pedestrians safely entering the North New Braunfels gate, and you are correct. We have not had any accidents causing injury to any pedestrian at that gate.

Nonetheless, I must ensure that a safe environment for pedestrians walking on the installation is provided and the current layout of the North New Braunfels gate is not configured to guarantee pedestrian safety when walking onto the installation.

In the future, we would like to design an entry point that has those safety features; however, for now I must rely on the pedestrian gate.

I would like to share some good news about your comment to open the Wilson gate for more hours. I understand the Wilson gate closing in the early afternoon is troublesome for some drivers. I was successful at lobbying for an increase in Security Forces personnel authorizations to extend the hours at the Wilson gate and we are in the process of coordinating the human resources actions to hire those new civilian defenders.

I am confident by January of 2020, we will be able to extend the Wilson gate hours into the evening to help provide options to our population.

Q. With regards to parking on base, is there a way that we can make the rules more stringent than Texas state law?

It is very disheartening to see Disabled Veteran, or DV, plated vehicles parking in handicapped spots when they do not have a handicapped sticker anywhere on their vehicle. When this happens, members that have the stickers or placards are displaced, have to walk farther, and have a hard time putting their wheelchairs and accessories in their vehicles.

With the amount of retirees, wounded warriors, visitors and civilian workforce, I feel that this is a real issue. I have a Purple Heart and refuse to park in those spots because I can walk and I am sure that there is someone that needs it much more than me. Thank you for your time and the opportunity.

A: Thank you for your question and thank you for helping provide handicapped parking for mobility restricted individuals who work and live on JBSA. I do appreciate your consideration.

As the installation commander, I am required to establish a traffic code for operations of motor vehicles on my installation by 32 CFR Section 634.25. This code should conform to the code of the State in which the installation is located.

In October 2018, I published the JBSA supplement to Air Force Manual 31-116, which is the Air Force Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision instruction. I detailed that local and state issued handicapped decals, placards, signs, etc., will be honored on JBSA.

Texas law allows veterans who are certified by the Veteran’s Administration who have a 50 percent service-related disability, or 40 percent due to amputation of a lower extremity, to be issued a DV license plate. Further, Texas allows a vehicle displaying a DV license plate to park in any spot reserved for a person with a disability even though the plate does not have the international symbol for handicapped access.

Although JBSA will continue to recognize Texas DV license plate parking provisions, I would ask those who have DV license plates to park in a location that best suits a mobility restriction. 

Miscellaneous

Q. The traffic light timing at the JBSA-Lackland Luke gates seems to be off. When exiting the base or traveling north on Southwest Military Drive, the traffic light stays green for about 5 seconds only. Traffic is backed up from the Luke gates to the Selfridge gates on Military, and on every street leading to those gates on base.

While exiting the Selfridge gate, it can easily take 15-20 minutes to get to the Luke gate light. Who adjusts the light timing (the city or base) and what has to happen to get that traffic signal timing adjusted to ease the back up of traffic?

A. First of all, thank you for providing us with a detailed description of this issue.

We’ve contacted Texas Department of Transportation, or TXDoT, and confirmed they have established a contract to do re-stripping down Southwest Military Drive which will include traffic detection at the intersections of our gates. This traffic detection capability will help address the concerns you’ve identified. The work has already begun and scheduled to be complete prior to the end of this calendar year.

Please continue to provide us with your observations as we work through all potential solutions to reduce traffic congestion impacting JBSA installations.

Q. I thought Joint Base San Antonio was supposed to be a Joint Base. Why is it that we don’t operate like a Joint Base? If we are indeed a Joint Base then shouldn’t we have Joint Base regulations? A Joint Base finance system?  A Joint Base personnel system? A Joint Base contracting system? A Joint Base operating like a “Purple Base” with all five services acting as one unit?

Instead, we still have our separate stove pipe systems for each service that have a hard time communicating with each other.

A. Thank you for asking this important and complex question. Interestingly, you are not alone in your thoughts. The Joint Base Implementation Guidance, or JBIG, issued July 1, 2010 currently governs all joint bases.

The Deputy Secretary of Defense recognizes joint basing challenges and is currently drafting a Joint Basing Department of Defense Directive (DODD) Department of Defense Instruction (DODI) to address issues such as the ones you mention.

Although joint bases are not using the same systems, we are ensuring that all service standards are met through the Joint Base Common Output Level Standards, or JB-COLS. Each performance level standard was developed utilizing each Services governing authorities such as directives, instructions, regulations, handbooks, and/or Code of Federal Regulation as required.

The JB-COLS ensure performance level standards are using a common framework of definitions and cost drivers for each installation support function. Together, these governing authorities and the JB-COLS framework work towards unifying processes such as the joint base’s finance system, personnel system, and contracting systems.

We certainly understand that there are still gaps in many processes. However, we recognize the challenges and are working to bridge those gaps that bring about your primary concerns. We continue to strive towards creating a joint operating environment which exists to optimize the delivery of installation support across the services.