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Services Division ready to showcase record year

By James Coburn | 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office | March 13, 2008

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS — When Services people do a good job, everyone on base enjoys a better quality of life.

Team Lackland's 37th Services Division has just been named Air Education and Training Command's Outstanding Large Unit, so Lackland people are living in high cotton.

Recognition of Services excellence at Lackland could grow to Air Force-wide soon, as a five-member team will arrive March 17 to evaluate the division for the 2008 General Curtis E. LeMay Award for Services Outstanding Large Unit.

It would be the third time the 37th Services Division has been honored as best in the Air Force; the division now has been named best in AETC four times.

Brig. Gen. Len Patrick, 37th Training Wing commander, congratulated Team Lackland Services leaders and staff members for their creativity and hard work that led to the 2008 AETC LeMay Outstanding Unit Award.

"It's an enormous job to provide activities, recreation, fitness, food and lodging for the Air Force's most populous base, and our Services professionals truly provide a personal touch on a massive scale," General Patrick said. "Their efforts are a big part of making Lackland the best place to work and live in the Air Force."

The 37th Services Division is the largest Services division or squadron in the continental United States, with more than 1,700 workers, including nearly 1,000 non-appropriated-fund employees, 645 contract employees, about 90 appropriated-fund civilians and 21 military personnel. They provide services for a base populace of about 45,000 people.

Division Director Jerry Stanfill said the AETC recognition "addresses not only activities and program accomplishments, but the quality of the programs offered and the financial performance of the organization."

"An AETC team of experts looked at our activities and our programs, our financial operations, and deemed that customer service - a very key issue - was the best in the command this year," Mr. Stanfill said.

The team visited "virtually all our facilities" in January, he said. "They looked at child development centers, the Youth Center, Gateway Hills Golf Course, Skylark Bowling Center, clubs, dining halls, lodging and fitness facilities."

"We had an incredible year during fiscal 2007," said Jim Craney, deputy director of the 37th Services Division. "We totaled $31 million for equipment, projects and new construction projects - far greater than any other year we've ever had. In fact, it was double any previous year."

New facilities opened during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 (the evaluation period for the 2008 award) include the $10 million Lackland Youth Center near Lackland Elementary School, $9.3 million dining facility on Lackland Training Annex and $6.8 million LTA Medina Fitness Center.
"Opening of the Air Force's premier youth center had a tremendous impact," Mr. Craney said.

"Truly a case of build it and they will come," Mr. Stanfill said of the 35,000-square-foot Youth Center that includes two interior gymnasiums. "Kids have really taken to the facility. They just keep coming and it just keeps growing."

The Medina Fitness Center replaced the Air Force's worst fitness facility.

"That's not an exaggeration," Mr. Stanfill said, noting it was the finding of a consulting firm which did an assessment of all Air Force fitness facilities. "So we went from the worst to one of the best, and it has done an outstanding job of providing service to the technical training community and permanent party assigned at LTA and the folks that live on the annex."

Lackland's Fitness and Sports Program, operating in six fitness centers, was honored as the best in AETC for 2007 and received Air Force 5-Star recognition.

The Base Library also received 5-Star recognition, helping 3,100 collegians pursue 158 degree programs, and 35,000 students pursue professional military education classes.

Services also operates a Patient Library, the only facility of its kind in the Air Force, serving 52,000 patients.

Mr. Craney said Lackland Services operates far and away the most lodging facilities, with 2,700 rooms, and the largest food service, operating 13 dining halls, plus a flight kitchen at Kelly Field.

"Yet despite the fact that we are so enormous, we do things with a personal touch by just personal service," he said. "We operate more than 1,130 programs that attracted 278,000 participants, everything from very small stuff like a belly dancing class to a major basewide program like the Fourth of July Festival where the whole base has agencies that are involved."

"We had a record financial year," Mr. Stanfill said, with a net income of $1.28 million. He said the AETC team "looked to see what we did with that money. It was very evident that we were reinvesting a great deal of capital in our programs, all of which is designed to make the programs all that much better."

Services also operates the Lackland Outdoor Adventure Center on the former Kelly golf course. Several new programs started there last year, including paintball competition.
LOAC also offers Outdoor Recreation rentals.

"We purchased new boats, new campers and several items totally new to the program - the moon walks, bounce castles, that has proved to be a very popular item," he said. "So, the Outdoor Recreation Program is just growing leaps and bounds," he continued. "We've just scratched the surface of the potential for the site."

The LeMay team will be visiting Lackland Services facilities for three days starting Monday. Seven other bases worldwide also are being evaluated for the award, to be presented during a worldwide banquet in June at Keystone Resort in Colorado.

Judging by a spectacular year and an enormous improvement in the quality of life for Lackland personnel, the 37th Services Division has an excellent shot at again being named best in the Air Force as in 1987 and 1996.