How are you connected?

(U.S. Air Force courtesy graphic)

(U.S. Air Force courtesy graphic)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- At last month's commander's call, I had an opportunity to lay out our wing's updated Mission, Vision and Priorities, as developed by thirty members of the 30th Space Wing leadership team [see graphic]. I would like to take a minute to focus a bit on our people priority, specifically how we all are a part of, and contribute to, our connected community here on Vandenberg. This priority is even more important now, at a time when 75 percent of our civilian workforce has been furloughed. As you all have likely experienced, a highly connected community is more effective, more efficient, more flexible and able to withstand challenges (like a government shutdown), and certainly, more fun to be a part of. After all, we are all part of something bigger than ourselves, e.g., the Air Force, Vandenberg, our individual unit, our faith group, our family, etc., but we only recognize the benefits of that something when we are connected to each other within it.

So, how are you connected?

Do you feel connected to the mission, either directly on the day of launch or indirectly as part of the many functions that enable so much success around base? We wouldn't have had three successful launches in just seven days without so many Team V members interconnected to make the magic happen. Likewise, our 30th Security Forces Defenders around base, our medics in the 30th Medical Group clinic and numerous others around base make up an intricate network that also provides mission success every day.

Are you also connected to your future as an Airman (officer, enlisted, or civilian)? Are you taking the time to seek professional development opportunities to improve yourself and your contributions to the Air Force? These connections can be formal via pursuing academic degrees, attending professional military education or seeking out additional training opportunities. They can also be informal through mentorships with more senior Airmen or memberships in professional organizations, e.g., Rising 6, Top 3, Company Grade Officers' Council and Vandenberg Spouse Club. Just one look at the new Vandenberg Education Center under construction and we have a visual reminder that we can always build on what we have for the future.

Are you and your family connected to others as a part of our base community? Social media allows us to be connected electronically and I encourage each of you to plug into the wing's Facebook page and other base organizational pages to see and contribute to all that's happening around us. To help create some new connections I've been posting on twitter (@colkeithbalts) and the 30th Space Wing Facebook page as additional ways to connect with wing members on line. Of course, nothing beats connecting in person, for that is where we experience the benefits of being in our community the most. Our monthly wing run, promotion ceremony and First Friday at the Club events provide great opportunities for us to connect regularly as an entire team...all on the same day!

Finally, are you connected to our local community, our base services, and our base helping agencies? I could write a whole article dedicated to each of these components as they define what it means to be assigned here at Vandenberg. Along those lines, I encourage each of you to create a bucket list of the things that are unique to this base and area, and then check them all off before your time here passes. My favorites on base include the 25 sites the leadership team visited during our Amazing Race team building event, i.e., five base memorials, Chumash cliff painting, Boathouse, base museum at SLC-10, beaches, Honda Point, etc. We are also blessed to have so many things to do off base as well. Have you taken the train from base to Santa Barbara for a day trip, visited a winery or mission, or biked the Bob Jones trail to Avila Beach? While not necessarily bucket list material, ensuring you are connected to helping agencies like the chapel, mental health, and the Vandenberg Airman and Family Readiness Center prior to, during or after a stressful situation can help mitigate the effects of life's curve balls.

I have been asking if you feel connected to our community, and I hope each of you continue to improve those personal connections. I would also like to turn the question around and ask, what do you do to connect others? Do you celebrate our mission on launch day or other significant events with your co-workers and/or family? Do you mentor those junior to you and encourage their professional development? Do you connect with others electronically, within a private organization, or in person at a social function you attend...or better yet, that you host? Have you recently invited someone else along to explore our local communities, to participate in a base activity, or to seek out one of our many helping agencies?

Ultimately, we're all connected one way or another...it's just a matter of how many and how strong those connections are. I encourage each of you to make some new ones for yourselves and for others. Often, it just takes a little extra effort to get out of our comfort zone, seek out a new opportunity and invite someone else along, too. The payoffs, and new connections, are always worth it.