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Best in the business

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. James R. Wilson
  • 919th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Building a culture that embraces innovative programs and a proactive approach to supporting Duke Field families has earned a 919th Special Operations Wing unit one of the military’s most prestigious awards.

The 919th Special Operations Force Support Squadron was recently selected as the 2017 Department of Defense Family Readiness Award recipient signifying it has one of the best programs for supporting military families.   

Members of the family readiness team were honored to receive the award. Though a small and relatively new group, they all worked together and brought new and innovative ways to identify and meet the needs of Duke Field families. 

“We have such diverse background and were all able to help each other learn how to do this right,” said Kelly Ewert, Director of Airman and Family Readiness. “The wing has a high operations tempo so we work hard to meet the resiliency needs of not just the member but the family as well. That approach to family readiness takes a lot of collaboration with other agencies as well as our community partners.”

Ewert said the staff felt it was important to understand the needs of the unit so it conducted focus groups, surveys and spent one on one time with members before building a roadmap for the future.

“We take feedback and communication with our members very seriously,” said Ewert. “Our main message was ‘We’re here to support you.’ This unit deserves support and we are trying to give them that.”

The Reserve Family Readiness Award was established in 2000 to recognize the top unit in each of the Reserve Components. A hard charging approach to programs such as Yellow Ribbon Reintegration, Key Spouse, Operation Hero, Recharge for Resilience and other initiatives has enabled the 919th SOFSS to transform its Airman and Family Readiness Program.

The staff also offered other services such as employment and financial assistance, interviewing skills, sessions on family member benefits and entitlements, achieving a better work life balance as well as predeployment, deployment and reunion support.   

Having continuity in key leadership positions and a shared commitment to the vision by each member of the team helped them creatively keep families informed and involved.

“We put a lot of heart and passion into what we do,” said Master Sgt. Annjill Transfiguration, Airman and Family Readiness member and the wing’s Yellow Ribbon representative. “Our mission is to improve the well being of our members and their families…that is a huge reward in itself. We’re trying to change lives one family at a time.”  

The Airman and Family Readiness staff intends to grow the program even more in the coming year.

“We have even more exciting events planned to support our members and their families in 2018,” said Transfiguration. “Feedback from the units is important to us and allows us to take initiatives that were successful last year and build on them. We’re a small unit, but we’re doing a lot.”

 (Editor’s Note: Capt. Monique Roux, 919th SOW/PA, also contributed to this article)