Top AF senior enlisted leader testifies on AF quality of life issues

by Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information

WASHINGTON — The top enlisted leaders representing each service testified about quality of life issues in the military during a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veteran’s Affairs Feb. 25 in Washington, D.C.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody answered questions about current quality of life issues within the Air Force.

The testimony focused on the looming possibility of sequestration and how it would affect Airmen and their families in areas such as health and wellness, benefits, infrastructure and the uncertainty of future recruiting and retention.

“We’ve had to let good Airmen go before their desired time,” Cody said. “When I came in 30-plus years ago, when you were a good Airmen and you worked hard you had the opportunity to serve 20 years and you didn’t have to worry about that. But today, there is the uncertainty in the future of their ability to serve. Today the Air Force is the smallest Air Force since our inception.”

A primary priority of the Air Force leadership is to take care of its people. Active-duty component saw a substantial decrease in end strength, dropping from 327,600 at the start of fiscal year 2014 to 312,980 at the start of fiscal 2015. At the same time, global demands and geopolitical realities made it clear the need to halt further force reduction initiatives.

“The Air Force faced a significant challenge last year as we went through a period of force drawdown,” Cody said. “Yet despite the stress our Airmen continue to serve proudly. We are committed to providing the best support possible to build and maintain ready and resilient Airmen and families.”

Leveraging the enlisted core with continuing education — both military and civilian — that implores strategic thinking was another topic among the service’s senior enlisted leaders.

“Every Airman is an important investment,” Cody said. “These developmental opportunities provide the foundation for robust recruitment and retention, and solidify our Airmen’s professional capabilities. Our focused efforts produce highly skilled and highly effective Airmen who are well prepared to contribute to our nation’s defense and equipped for professional life after they’ve served our nation.”

Cody then referenced the legislation the committee provides to protect and support Airmen and their benefits given to them by the Air Force such as the Air Force Airman and Family Care Program which offers financial planning, family readiness, support for exceptional family members, transition assistance and more.

“These programs directly support resiliency and readiness of our Airmen and their families.” he said.

Another quality of life topic Cody highlighted in his written statement was the Air Force’s need to improve infrastructure.

“The Air Force has dormitories that do not meet quality of life standards,” Cody said. “If Congress supports the President’s Budget request, the Air Force will be able to invest $62 million to build new dormitories around the Air Force. We must keep faith in the American people (by taking care of our Airmen).”