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Maintaining the maintainers

22ARW

Ray, a German shepherd, poses for a photo Jan. 15, 2021, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. Ray was brought to the 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron for "Puppy Friday", which a morale initiative is created by the AMXS first sergeants to reduce stress and increase morale. ( U.S. Air Force photo by Airmen 1st Class Zachary Willis)

22ARW

Airmen from the 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron play with Ray, a German shepherd, Jan. 19, 2021, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. The maintenance career field has its challenges so taking a moment to interact with an animal can help boost emotional well-being and social support. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airmen 1st Class Zachary Willis)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – Nothing starts the day off better than a surprise from a four-legged, furry friend, and these tail-wagging companions have been making an appearance at the 22nd Maintenance Group with the hope to increase resiliency.

Lt. Col. Summer Kolcun, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, and Maj. Cory Eubanks, 22nd Maintenance Squadron commander, have taken it upon themselves to develop a resilience initiative that focuses on ways to improve morale during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID has challenged several Airmen with the separation of families, shift changes and the responsibility to continue the mission. In order to offset the negative effects from the current pandemic, Eubanks had the idea to conduct a simple act of kindness. He brought his dog into work for a day to try and put some smiles on people’s faces.

“It’s funny, if there is a dog anywhere in the area and people know about it, people love the idea and want to be around a puppy,” said Eubanks.

In order to support leadership’s plan, the first sergeants came up with an idea to help reduce stress caused by work, life and the pandemic by bringing in their dogs every Friday to work to give Airmen a break.

“Little things make the difference [and] make people smile,” said Eubanks. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Despite the demands of the mission, Col. Emily Farkas, 22nd MXG commander, believes that small moments like these can change someone’s day for the better. Farkas mentioned that taking a break can change ones whole outlook on the day.

“I wanted to remind folks we’re here as a family, and we take care of each other,” said Farkas. “If you need a moment, [or] you need a minute to get through whatever you are feeling you’ve got going on, then we want to give you that pause.”

The maintenance career field comes with additional challenges for Airmen so the ability to take a second to interact with a dog can boost emotional readiness and social support in the work place.

“I have 700 Airmen, so it could be easy for them to feel like another number,” said Kolcun. “I don’t want them to feel that way even with our large squadron, so I will do whatever I can do to provide for them.”