Would it be possible?
By Col. Lansen Conley, 82nd Training Wing vice commander
/ Published November 03, 2006
SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE --
It was a simple question. "Would it be possible to have drinking fountains installed at the mile running track?"
A Senior Airman asked me the question last year at the end of my session with one of our Airmen Leadership School classes. It seemed like a reasonable request so I went back and posed the question to finance and the civil engineers.
CE said yes they could install drinking fountains and also wanted to build bathrooms at the mile track, but they needed money. Finance said this would be a good project to include in our end-of-year closeout for FY05.
When we approached the wing commander with the plan, he was very receptive to the idea, especially since one of our Airmen proposed the idea. He agreed to add this project to our end-of-year list. As you may recall, FY05 was a very good year for end-of-year funding and the project was funded. Now as you go to the track for your fitness training, we have drinking fountains and bathrooms!
In September 2006, Brig. Gen. Erwin Lessel, Air Force Director of Communication, released a document called "The Air Force Story" (http://www.af.mil/library/afstory.asp) which gives each of us talking points to tell the Air Force story - who we are, what we do and how we do it. These talking points are designed to help us explain who we are as Airmen and what America's Air Force does for our nation.
One talking point under the topic "People" caught my attention. "Airmen are innovative and creative - we continually improve today's war-fighting capabilities while preparing for future wars."
My guess is the Airman who asked the question never thought she was being innovative or creative and probably didn't think it would result in anything. However, she had the courage to ask the question.
She wasn't hindered by thoughts like, "I'm just a senior airman so no one will listen to me or I can't make a difference." Instead, she saw a way to improve today's war-fighting capabilities through a better fitness facility.
What a tremendous, positive impact she had!
The Air Force Story also states, "We are an Air Force and a nation at war - in a long, global war-fighting terrorism. Innovation is critical to success in defeating enemies on the battlefield as well as defending our homeland."
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of briefing the Logistics Officers Association on how Team Sheppard is using innovative technology to train tomorrow's Airmen today. People were amazed at what you are doing every day.
But for us, this is just Sheppard Standard - innovative and creative Airmen - officer, enlisted and civilian - constantly improving today's war-fighting capabilities by sending the best-trained Airmen to the warfighter.
Thank you and keep on asking, "Would it be possible?"