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NEWS | May 14, 2021

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 was wondering why JBSA-Fort Sam Houston has a mask mandate for entering the gate but JBSA-Randolph doesn’t?

I thought it was a JBSA-wide policy that you have to wear a mask when coming onto the base. Plenty of Security Forces and Department of Defense police have told me along with others that you have to wear it to enter and they have signs at the gate.

I went last week to JBSA-Randolph and saw that no one was wearing the masks while entering. I went earlier this week again and saw the same thing so I asked one of the Security Forces if people had to wear masks while entering. He said, “No you don’t have to.”

I would like to know why there are different rules for different bases. It doesn’t make a lot of sense since we are a “joint base” and it doesn’t seem fair either.

A. Thank you for your question on a very important issue. On Feb. 4, 2021, the Secretary of Defense directed the continuous wear of masks for everyone on military installations with few exceptions.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines include the wear of a mask anytime you cannot maintain at least 6 feet of separation from other people. Defenders at JBSA gates interact with approximately 30,000 people per day and do not have the ability to maintain at least six feet of separation from drivers and other personnel.

For those reasons, it is appropriate for defenders and vehicle drivers (at a minimum) to wear a mask when interacting at the gates. 

When the Secretary of Defense directive was issued, the 502nd Security Forces Group commander directed gate guards to inform all drivers of this requirement. However, that quickly proved to be a challenge, as it put the gate guards in the position to have to explain the requirement to most drivers, resulting in backed-up traffic and lengthy discussions.

Although the Department of Defense requirement and CDC guidelines exist, gate guards are no longer required to enforce it at the gates. However, gate guards at all JBSA installations always have the right to inform personnel about requirements and to enforce it as they feel appropriate to protect their own safety and health.

Thank you again for your question and for assisting us in protecting personnel and our critical missions. 

Q. Now that the Health Protection Condition, or HPCON, has been lowered, when will guests be allowed at the JBSA Recreation Area at Canyon Lake without having to be in the same vehicle as the ID cardholder?

A. Thank you for your question. The requirement to have an authorized user with a valid DOD ID Card in each vehicle for entry into the JBSA Recreation Area at Canyon Lake is in compliance with established entry control procedures across JBSA.

Ensuring one authorized ID cardholder per vehicle provides for accurate monitoring and accountability for guests of authorized users.

The Jacobs Creek section of the JBSA Recreation Area at Canyon Lake is no longer open to the public in order to maximize the opportunities for authorized DOD patrons and their families/guests to enjoy the outstanding morale, resiliency, and outdoor recreation opportunities these facilities have to offer.

Thank you for your understanding and patronage. 

Q. All around JBSA I have been seeing the “Taste of JBSA” advertised. I was wondering if this is compliant with the de-glamorization of alcohol in Air Force Instruction 34-219?

To me, it is irresponsible and inappropriate for the Force Support Squadron to be having an actual alcohol festival and promoting its usage. The military is high stress and alcohol has been the answer for service members to cope with that stress for far too long.

Two of the bases on JBSA are for trainees and we should be focused on staying away from alcohol usage and teaching them other healthy habits. The instruction says we must make every effort to deglamorize the use of alcohol and to discourage irresponsible use of it.

Could you please explain if I am taking it out of context?

A. Thank you for your question and concern about the JBSA community. The 502nd Force Support Squadron offers a wide range of programs to meet the diverse interests of JBSA team members of all ages, including some adult-only events.

Although Taste of JBSA does offer alcoholic beverage tastings, the focus of the event is to offer a fun and safe environment for eligible patrons 21 and older to enjoy live entertainment, games and social interaction. 

This annual event also showcases the culinary skills and talents of our chefs from the JBSA Clubs featuring many signature and new menu items.

All appropriate levels of approval have been obtained, and the required signage, training and safety measures are followed in all Force Support Squadron facilities.

Events where alcoholic beverages are served are in accordance with AFI 34-219. In addition, signs will be posted to “Drink responsibly” and “Don’t drink and drive” along with phone numbers for the “Be My Designated Driver” (1-877-823-6933) Program.