HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright spoke about resilience, leadership and more during a town hall here Sept. 6.
More than 400 Airmen from Hanscom AFB, as well as other invited Airmen from geographically separated units, listened as Wright touched on those topics and answered questions.
During an hour-long session in the Aero Club hangar, Wright spoke in length about the rise in suicides across the Air Force.
“This issue, not figuratively -- but literally, keeps me up at night,” he said.
He highlighted a closed Facebook group called Air Force Wingman Outreach, which, according to the page, is “for people to reach out, tell their stories.”
“There are about 30,000 Airmen … giving their testimonies about how they’re seen, how they’re feeling, what they’re battling, their stresses, their depression, their anxiety,” he said.
He asked those in attendance, “Do you know what your Airmen are saying?” That was a critical point: that connectivity is the main differentiator, the thing that can prevent the downward spiral that can form when an Airman feels isolated.
The 18th chief master sergeant of the Air Force addressed the need for leaders at all levels to think about what they can do.
“Some of this just comes down to being good humans,” Wright said. “Let’s all commit to doing just a little bit better.”
Other topics he addressed were ones Airmen may see in the coming months.
“We’re close to having a provision in the AFI, with some help from the Joint Staff and Congress, so commanders can grant a little bit of time [for Airmen] to take for themselves and their families for the purpose of bereavement,” said Wright.
He spoke about indefinite enlistments with provisions for those Airmen with more than 12 years of service.
“Once most people hit 12 years they’re pretty well vested in the United States Air Force,” Wright said.
The chief also discussed military retention of non-deployable service members, who represents less than five percent of the force, he noted. Wright encouraged attendees to keep “your teammate’s mission ready.”
During the question and answer period, Wright discussed uniforms, the Developmental Special Duty Program and the enlisted performance report process.
“Performance reporting is designed to help leaders, at some point, make management decisions,” he said. “Maybe five years from now, somebody will pull it out and determine if she should be a recruiter, she should be a promoted to chief, she should be the commander’s exec.”
He encouraged supervisors to focus on substance during the EPR process.
Before the call, Wright coined five Airmen.
Among them were Tech. Sgt. Lawrence Murphy, 436th Maintenance Squadron, Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass.; Tech. Sgt. Jessica Cervantes, 64th Air Refueling Squadron, Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire; Tech. Sgt. Esavivas Mulat, 319th Recruiting Squadron; Senior Airman Eric Vivaldo, 66th Medical Squadron; and Tech. Sgt. Janel Kumse, 66th Air Base Group.
The Air Force’s senior enlisted Airmen also coined Senior Master Sgt. Timm Huffman, the overall project lead for the Air Force Connect mobile app.
Wright serves as the personal adviser to the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Air Force on all issues regarding the welfare, readiness, morale, and proper utilization and progress of the enlisted force.
Prior to the all call, personnel from the Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Theater Deployable Communications program office showed Wright some of the work done at Hanscom.
“Thank you for carving out some of your time to spend with me,” he said at the conclusion of the all call. “I do appreciate what you do and all the support you provide us.”