Culture, character and communication

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- When I first arrived at McConnell, I began receiving summaries of operations reports submitted across the Air Force. Week after week, I read about suicide after suicide in alarming numbers. Since then, I’ve been focusing on how to communicate with Airmen about our culture and character to build a more resilient force.

Green Dot will help; so will discussions at commander’s calls; definitely having all the helping agencies of the medical community, chaplaincy, and the Airman and Family Readiness Center available is absolutely important.

I think the real solution boils down to creating a sense of belonging for every Airman in a community that cares about them, whether they are military, civilian or contractor. This is where we get involved in each other’s lives to ensure our brothers and sisters in arms feel trusted, included and valued, both personally and professionally.

The commander’s 3C’s initiative of culture, character and communication are a great place to start. Culture is the values and beliefs we share as Airmen; character involves our behaviors; communication is how we transmit our goals and objectives and how we build our culture and character on a human level. It is in the 3Cs where we can grow the pride and resilience of our future force.

This is where, in my opinion, our youngest Airmen have the most leadership and influence. Leaders of organizations will certainly set the direction. However, it takes stewards with informal authority over their peers to spread the vision.

You see, 90 percent of our force is made up of millennials and the network generation. They value most the guidance from those who have walked in their shoes they don’t reject Air Force institutional ideas because they are bad, but because they see them as Air Force “propaganda” rather than personally meaningful advice.

Our commanders can talk about what our vision is for McConnell, but instilling these 3Cs must begin at the grass roots level. We must change the perception that the 3Cs are Air Force “propaganda” but, instead, it’s the 22nd Air Refueling Wing lines of effort. I recognize that there is no algorithm to instill in our Airmen how important their role is in cultivating the 3Cs.

I challenge all of you to determine the formula in your workplace to guard our culture, model the character our nation demands, and communicate appreciation towards one another. Once we do this, we will be on the road to develop the sense of belonging that will help build resilience in each and every one of us.