Get connected, stay connected

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Barry T. Cargle
  • 344th Air Refueling Squadron commander
I was recently asked if I had ever had a bad assignment. When I answered no, the answer seemed to surprise the group of young Airmen I was talking with. The discussion quickly evolved into one about the feelings of boredom that are experienced outside of the job. I shared with them how my family has greatly enjoyed all of the places the Air Force has moved us over the years. I explained that there is more to an assignment than the location of the base, size of the town, or even the country.

I asked the group how involved they were in their base or local communities. They looked at one another and responded that they weren't involved at all. I assured them that few people are able to find connections with a base or community within days of arrival, but whether you are single, engaged, married, or married with children, there are three steps that my family takes when faced with a new assignment.

First, check out the base resources at your new location like the Airman and Family Readiness Center. The AFRC is a great resource in finding information about the base and community. It has maps and visitors' guides of the local and surrounding areas and pamphlets about nearby attractions and places to see. The staff can help answer your questions and guide you to some great spots.

Next, no matter where you live, get to know your neighbors. Most of us do not feel the need to walk across the street to meet the neighbors the day after the movers are gone, but you should introduce yourself within the first few weeks of moving in. Get to know your neighbors; find out who they are and something about them. Asking about what they like to do or a favorite hobby can be a starting place for friendships. Your neighbors can be people you call on in times of need. They can also be an excellent resource for finding restaurants, museums, baby sitters, repairmen, doctors and dentists, veterinarians and just about every other aspect of life that affects you and your family.

After that, I recommend getting actively involved with a social group that interests you. Some of those groups are churches, civic organizations, charities and professional organizations such as Route 56, Top 3 and Company Grade Officers Council. Being an active participant in functions and meetings is a great step toward building relationships and lasting friendships.

As I think back to previous and current assignments, I have found that there is no recipe that makes an assignment good, but the above steps have enabled my family to get connected and make our assignments the best they can be.