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NEWS | Aug. 21, 2020

Feedback Fridays

By Brig. Gen. Caroline M. Miller 502d Air Base Wing Commander

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 jbsapublicaffairs@gmail.com using the subject line “Feedback Fridays.” Questions will be further researched and published as information becomes available.

Q. I understand and support the Fort Sam Houston Aquatic Center closing to the public recently, however, I do not support continuing to keep all lifeguards on staff full time.

Now that the aquatic center is only open for lap swim and training, keeping all the summer hires on a full-time 40-hour-a-week schedule means most of them will be sitting around doing nothing most of the time. This is government waste and abuse of funds.

If we have so much extra money that we can afford to pay lifeguards to sit around an empty pool much of the day, why did we try to recruit free help this spring at the commissary during the COVID-19 rush with restocking instead of hiring stockers?

There are so many things I can think of that would be a better use of this money. We could pay to have gates open longer hours, fix small infrastructure issues, or offer free hours of childcare to essential workers or those parents who have small children but don’t want to expose them to others when they have an appointment or go grocery shopping. If the hours and users at the aquatic center are being greatly reduced then lifeguard staffing should reflect these changes.

I appreciate the head of the pool trying to keep full-time hours for his lifeguards, but I would question if it is necessary. I don’t know the numbers of lifeguards hired this summer versus last summer when the pool was at full capacity, but it would seem with less people allowed in the pool at one time, there should be less lifeguards this summer or less hours if the number of lifeguards is the same as last summer.

A. Thank you for your comments and concerns. The Fort Sam Houston Aquatics Center reopened for recreational swim July 27 and the lifeguards who we retained are much needed to provide the quality of life and resiliency programs offered through open recreational and lap swimming.

As the summer draws to an end, the summer hire contracts will expire and the number of lifeguards will be greatly reduced. Also, the operating hours of JBSA pools will be reduced starting mid-August and some will close by September.

Q: Why do the workers at the Fort Sam Houston commissary have to re-verify DOD ID cards after the front door worker and the self-checkout machine has already done so? I understand that during HPCON Charlie patrons must show DOD IDs to get in. However, having another person re-validate the DoD ID in a self-checkout counter doesn’t make sense and slows the process.

A. Thank you for the honest feedback. The commissary is currently following DeCA regulation DeCAM 40-6.1, July 1, 2015. It states that if the installation commander has directed that everyone must be identified as an authorized patron when entering the commissary (i.e., 100 percent ID check at the door), and visitors or guests are not allowed, ID cards must still be presented again at the register and scanned.

IDs must be checked at the door to get in and then they must be checked once again at the register to verify the actual patron is making the purchase. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

Q. My son is a recent graduate of Basic Military Training, and the fourth of my children to do through the years.

However this time, due to COVID-19, there were no public graduations, and I get that. However, no parent pins were offered to the Airmen.

I want him to get his parent pins to be able to give to us when he gets out of technical school.

I know it’s just a pin, but to me, it is now a missing piece of my very proud collection that is displayed on my wall in my office that his siblings had the opportunity to do that he is not offered. How can this be corrected? I will look forward to your reply. Thank you for your service.

A. First, we want to say what an honor it is for our Air Force to have four siblings from your family serving in our ranks!

As for your inquiry of a parent pin, that is an item that can be purchased online through outside vendors. However, Basic Military Training does not have a customary pin that it gives out to graduating Airmen for their families.

We appreciate your understanding of in-person graduations not taking place at this time and wish you well in finding the pin you are looking for to honor your fourth child’s graduation from BMT.