BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. – The Department of the Air Force released the results of its recent community assessments on support of military families, giving communities an idea of how they can better support Airmen and families.
“The communities surrounding our AFGSC bases have already done a tremendous amount of work to get professional licensure legislation passed in their states,” said Gen. Tim Ray, AFGSC Commander. “They have pushed for things like school of choice, a charter school at one base, and interstate compacts allowing easier transfer of school credits for high school students into local school systems.”
In addition, Ray said one community pushed to build a Child Development Center just off base, and another worked to provide funds to improve their base library. The community assessments are meant to serve as a tool for even further improvement.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for communities and bases to work together and build on recent successes,” Ray said. “Airmen and family retention are competitive advantages for our command.”
The Department of the Air Force will use the support of military family criteria to inform the strategic basing process this month. The intent with this initiative is to ensure locations where military members stationed are dedicated to advancing quality of life opportunities for Air and Space professionals and their families.
Professional licensure portability is critical to many military families, as spouses are often required to apply for a license in a new state in the same manner as a first-time applicant, the study found. Costs to transfer professional licenses for things like accounting, law, nursing, physical therapy, teaching and others to another state are often high. In many cases, waiting periods and adjudication are also required, which translates into lost wages. Legislation to make those license transfers easier can help.
“The communities in AFGSC have been hitting this area hard for the last few years, and I’m extremely proud of how far we’ve come,” Ray said. “However, there are still areas that can be improved.”
In looking at education, the assessments took a full-spectrum approach, including things like academic performance, school climate, and service offerings.
“Educational options and opportunities in some areas are key decision factors for some of our service members on whether they stay in the Air Force or decide to separate,” said Chief Master Sgt. Charles Hoffman, AFGSC Command Chief Master Sergeant. “Our military children deserve the best quality education no matter where their parents are stationed, and we hope the communities surrounding our AFGSC bases will do everything they can to make sure that quality education is available.”
Hoffman added that while change won’t happen overnight, identifying areas for improvement is an important first step, as the assessments will be updated annually.
“We recognize that changing licensure regulations and improving schools will take time, but by providing the evaluations to community leaders, we are giving them the information they need to make improvements in the support they provide to military families,” he said. “That way, our Airmen can focus on the mission with less worry, knowing their families are taken care of.”