Military News

Monday, December 29, 2014

Air Force highlights Offutt Spouse Resilience Program

by 55th Wing Public Affairs

12/29/2014 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The Offutt Spouse Resilience Program was highlighted at the Air Force's second annual Community Action Information Board meeting Dec. 11.

Joy Draper and Aimee Salter, co-chairs of the program, were hand-picked by Air Combat Command to brief U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen L. Hoog, assistant vice chief of staff and air staff director, as well as representatives from all nine Air Force commands during the video teleconference.

"We received several great submissions, but one stood out as exceptional," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. James N. Post, Air Combat Command vice commander, as he introduced the Offutt Spouse Resilience Program to the group.

The Offutt Spouse Resilience Program was introduced in early 2014 and has made a tremendous impact on the base.

"The resiliency of our Airmen is greatly impacted by the resiliency of their families, said U.S. Air Force Col. Mark Williamson, 55th Wing vice commander. "With over 3,500 families here at Offutt, we decided to help address this need by establishing the spouse resilience program, which had an immediate and positive impact on our Airmen and their families."

Draper and Salter, who are both certified key spouses of the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron and the 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron respectively, attended a three-day resilience training assistant course.

They then worked with Jack Sweet, Offutt Community Support coordinator, to establish a resilience program element, specifically for spouses, as part of the Offutt Resilience Program. This included modifying five of the 12 resilience modules to better fit spouse's needs. Overall, they've spent more than 700 hours combined on the program and hosted more than 40 events throughout this year.

"This is a great example of what the Air Force family does," Hoog said. "Someone sees a need and they step up and do it.

"Aimee and Joy, on behalf of the Air Force, I want to thank you for your efforts," he added.

Draper and Salter said they're proud the program has taken off and hope what they've done will help other bases come up with similar programs to help with spouse's resiliency.

"The key for a successful program is going to be coordination and collaboration with the base community support coordinator and working hand-in-hand with the base resilience initiative," said Draper. "We're always happy to share our experiences and what materials we've developed thus far as well as our success stories."

"Within the last few months we began to fully realize our program is the first of its kind in the Air Force and saw the potential we have to positively impact spouses Air Force wide," said Salter. "As we continued to develop the program, our goal is assist other bases wanting to establish a spouse resilience program similar to ours."

Hoog noted he would create an action item for the CAIB to see how they can incorporate ideas and techniques from the Offutt Spouse Resilience Program into other already established Air Force programs.

During the live discussion, the group talked about integrating the modules into the key spouse training curriculum, as well as possibly including it within the wing commander and spouse's courses.

"Aimee and Joy have done an absolute wonderful job with this program," Sweet said. "We are very lucky to have them here at Offutt and I believe their passion to develop a Resilience program specifically for spouses will benefit the rest of the Air Force."

While the team is proud of the accomplishments, they are excited with the fact that the Air Force has identified this need and taking steps to address it.

"It was an honor to have the team's program chosen and highlighted as a success," Draper said. "Mostly, though, I'm pleased that it opens up more chances to reach out to military spouses and equip them with essential resilience skills to help bolster families and make service members more mission-ready by helping on the home front."

"To have our initiative and accomplishments validated by Air Force leadership is pretty amazing," Salter said. "Learning how to effectively deal with stress, strengthen healthy relationships, and increase effective communication are not done intermittently or on a whim. Rather, being resilient is an intentional choice we have to make and commit to as individuals and families."

Dobbins Civilian Personnel Office achieves "second-to-none" status

by Senior Airman Daniel Phelps
94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

12/23/2014 - DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga.  -- For the fourth consecutive year, the 94th Force Support Squadron civilian personnel office was chosen as the Air Force Reserve Command Civilian Personnel Program of the Year for their excellence in taking care of the civilian workforce here.

It's been the same team for those four years, said Kelly Kinsey, 94th FSS human resources officer.

"We just have the right mix of people; we all genuinely care and take it personal if someone has an issue," she added.

"Everyone is a priority," agreed Vanessa Miguel, 94th FSS HR specialist. "Each situation is unique and treated as such."

Work issues can affect individuals on a personal level that has a ripple effect on how employees function, said Miguel. Taking care of people contributes to the members' professional development and often enhances efficiency of the base as a whole.

According to Miguel, the HR members enjoy meeting and working with all Team Dobbins members.

"I love the interaction with each individual and being able to provide information or assistance, whether it is communication over the telephone or in person," Miguel said. "This cannot be emulated by automation, yet."

Their group consists entirely of "fixers," Kinsey pointed out.

"We like to fix problems and take a stake in the lives of the people on Dobbins," she said.

The Dobbins HR team's reach extends beyond just taking care of the force at Dobbins.

"We also assist other AFRC bases and government agencies with their issues," said Kinsey.

This award-winning team is also a source of help for Dobbins external agencies.

They often get calls for how-to's and "have you ever run into this situation" from other installations and government agencies, she said.

"We must be doing something right," Kinsey said. "It's nice to know we are appreciated."

Nations to Share Info on North Korean Nuke, Missile Threats

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29, 2014 – The South Korean and Japanese defense ministries and the U.S. Defense Department have finalized a trilateral information-sharing arrangement concerning the nuclear and missile threats posed by North Korea.

This arrangement creates a framework by which the defense authorities of the three nations may voluntarily share classified information, Pentagon officials explained. The Defense Department is to serve as the hub for information shared trilaterally, officials said, adding that the arrangement does not impose any new legal obligations on the signatories.

The arrangement advances the security of the three signatories, officials said, because sharing information on the nuclear and missile threats posed by North Korea will allow for a more effective response to future provocations and during contingencies.

Face of Defense: Dreams Come True for Italian Airman

By Air Force Senior Airman Charles Rivezzo
60th Air Mobility Wing

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Dec. 29, 2014 – “Sono un aviatore Americano.” When translated, these words represent the bridge between two different lives for Air Force Airman Dimas Bernacchia -- the life of an Italian immigrant and the life of an American airman.

Born in Senigallia, Italy, Bernacchia spent much of his childhood traversing Europe and the Italian peninsula. His father, Giulio Bernacchia, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Italian air force, flew the NE-A3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft for NATO forces in the first Gulf War.

"Growing up, I never really saw much difference between the Italian and American air force; I just saw Air Force in general," Bernacchia said. "Ever since I was really young, I've always had this thing in the back of my mind about the military, and I think that ties back to my father."

Early Exposure to American Culture

During the early years of his life, Bernacchia experienced different aspects of American culture, with his father being stationed at a joint base in Germany. He attended American schools, and surprisingly, English served as his first language.

"Moving back to Italy, the teachers couldn't understand me. They would ask me to write stuff down, and I would write it down in English,” he said as he laughed about the memory. “I remember I was returning an assignment with a big X on it, and the teacher said, ‘This is all in English.’"

Though Bernacchia grew accustomed to speaking Italian, his parents maintained his dual language proficiency by watching movies in English.

"We watched a lot of movies," he said. "My parents knew English was important and would give me more opportunities in the world."

Bilingual Ability Opens Doors

His bilingual ability did indeed open doors. At the age of 22, Bernacchia applied for a one-year program to work at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

"I didn't even know what job they would have me doing. I was just excited to go," he said. "Working at Disney was my bridge to the United States. It gave me a chance to learn and experience American culture at its fullest."

Bernacchia spent the year as a waiter at one of the park’s restaurants. He embraced the culture, excelled in his profession and met Elizabeth, the woman who would one day become his wife. The year flashed by, he said.

He returned to Italy after the program ended, but eventually returned to Disney as a corporate-level manager for the company's food and wine festival.

Giving Back to the United States

"At one point I looked at my life and thought, 'I have a family, a good job, but I want to give something back to the United States,’" Bernacchia said. "I wanted to pursue something that has always been in my mind. I decided to enlist in the Air Force so I could have a chance to serve this country that has been so great to me, and at the same time, fulfill this long-lasting dream of being in the Air Force and being a part of something great."

He left for basic military training March 25, 2014 -- still as an Italian citizen. After technical training to become a financial management comptroller, he arrived here in the early fall as a member of the 60th Comptroller Squadron. He now had his chance to apply for American citizenship.

Attaining U.S. Citizenship

As a service member, Bernacchia fell under a special provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act that expedites the application and naturalization process. Meeting the qualifications to become a U.S. citizen, he raised his right hand Sept. 3 to take his oath as an American citizen.

"I remember walking out of the building feeling as if I had somehow won the lottery,” he said. “It's a surreal feeling."

Bernacchia said his plans have yet to be written. For now, he explained, his focus centers on his work within the comptroller squadron and his role as a husband to his wife and their 2-year-old daughter, Abigail.

"Anything can happen," he said. "I was without a job in Italy, then I was working at Disney, and now I'm in the United States Air Force, so who knows what is going to happen next?"