SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Pride, quality and service. Sounds like characteristics that are often mentioned in military circles to describe expectations or past accomplishments.
They are also the words found in the new Base Service Center, a supply store operated by Ability One, which opened May 31 at Sheppard Air Force Base for Government Purchase Card carriers to purchase items on site from a vetted and mandatory source. The store is located in Bldg. 649, the former Military Clothing Sales store, on Avenue H.
Brig. Gen. Ronald E. Jolly Sr., 82nd Training Wing commander, lauded the efforts of 82nd Contracting Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Rodrick Edwards, 82nd Logistics Readiness Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Paul Cancino and Buddy Edgemon, president of Beacon Lighthouse in Wichita Falls for seeing an opportunity to bring two communities together and working hard to make that happen.
Ability One operates more than 150 BSCs at military and government installations around the world and employs more than 45,000 people who are blind or have significant disabilities.
“To have an Ability One-sponsored store right here that provides for our Airmen is critical, and in return, we’re providing for our community. We’re highlighting the skill and talent of those some will say have disabilities, but I say have many abilities,” he said. “So, to bring Ability One here is very critical to us and our community, and it’s definitely a win-win.”
Edgemon said the ribbon cutting ceremony and opening of the store was an emotional day for him, one that has been long in the making. He said he has worked for several years to see the store open on base to provide a service to Sheppard and to provide a place of employment for people with disabilities.
It’s also a place for others to see the worker and what they can do, not the disability or the limitation.
“We’re really in the people business. We’ve got to produce something and sell something to stay in the people business,” he said. “But it gives us a chance for people to meet a person with a disability, and they won’t see a disability.”
Edgemon said he and his employees are proud to be part of Sheppard and to be able to help Airmen accomplish their mission.
Edwards said he saw the value of having a BSC available while serving as a commander at Altus AFB, Oklahoma, before coming to Sheppard. It was the then the wheels started turning to bring a BSC here.
“Honestly, I was kind of appalled that I get here and it’s a bigger base and they didn’t have one,” he said. “I realized we were still going to Altus to purchase a lot of this stuff, so that’s when I started to work on this.”
Cancino, also relatively new to Sheppard at the time, recalled one of his first conversations with Edwards regarding the lack of a supply store. He said he was shocked, too, that the base was lacking a sourced supply store.
The LRS commander said there was no good reason to not have a BSC and it added value for Sheppard, so helping make it happen was the right thing to do.
“All it really took was two of the right functions saying yes,” he said. “We moved at the speed of heat and here we are eight, nine months later and it’s coming online and coming along real well.”
Once the store is fully stocked, it will carry about $500,000 in assets that will support two wings and more than 3,000 U.S. and international military members. Items on hand will include high-turnover and expendable supplies; office and janitorial items; common-use tools; organizational equipment; specialty deployment items; squadron-specific items; and more.
In addition to the items available in the store, the 82nd CONS will host monthly GPC training for new card holders at the facility.
Hours of operation will be Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Only GPC holders will be able to make purchases from the store. For more information, call 940-676-1357 or 940-855-7757. Store manager David Dalgity can be reached at 940-676-0258.