All Airmen arriving at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, will now be met with a streamlined in-processing method at the newly established Combat Airlift Welcome Center, located in the Walters Community Support Center.
The Combat Airlift Welcome Center will be one of the first stops for new Airmen arriving at Little Rock AFB and will serve as a one-stop shop for new Airmen and their families to process through the military personnel section, medical, traffic management office and finance, as well as get exposed to base helping agencies.
In early December 2018, U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Justin Strain, 19th Airlift Wing command chief; Stephanie Wynn, community support coordinator; and other key Team Little Rock members went to visit Whiteman AFB, Missouri, to tour their Task Force True North beta site. TFTN is a program based on the U.S. Special Operations Command’s Preservation of the Force and Families Program.
“When we went to Whiteman we saw their entire TFTN program and decided to implement parts of that here at Little Rock,” Wynn said. “We liked their set-up and saw how with a one-stop center, they saved hundreds of man-hours per person in-processing. We were very impressed with their welcome center.”
The idea to stand up the welcome center next door to the Airman and Family Readiness center was a strategic one. Airmen also go to the Walters Community Support Center for their newcomer’s briefings, Green Dot and resiliency classes.
In just over two months after touring Whiteman’s welcome center, the Combat Airlift Welcome Center opened its doors.
“Whiteman has been incredibly helpful ever since they found out we were going to stand up our own welcome center,” Wynn said. “We have reached back and asked questions. They have sent us checklists and have been nothing but helpful.”
Within 72 hours of arrival, Airmen will be met by a team of trained personnel and an array of support functions consolidated at the welcome center to help them through the permanent change of station process. This includes assistance with travel vouchers, help with updating required paperwork, and scheduling follow-on appointments.
Unit command support staff personnel will schedule the initial appointment for incoming Airmen on the welcome center SharePoint site.
The sponsorship program remains a unit responsibility. Sponsors will escort in-processing Airmen to the center and remain with them during their appointment.
“We require the sponsor or a sponsor representative to come with them because we want to keep the connectedness with the unit,” Wynn said. “Say there is an Airman meeting with finance and there is a problem or they are going to have to bring some paperwork back, their sponsor can help them through that process and the unit is aware of it.”
In-processing Airmen are encouraged to bring their spouse and family to the appointment.
“The benefit of bringing your family is multi-fold,” Wynn said. “They can be connected with resources immediately and when they go through medical in-processing, they are going to be assigned primary care managers for the whole family, so getting all that done and getting them on Tricare online and making sure the spouse knows how to do that is very important.”
Airmen and family members returning to the welcome center for follow-on actions will not need an appointment.
“The resource center we have in the front is open for anyone on base,” Wynn said. “You do not have to be an in-processing Airman to use the resource center. It is there for people to get connected with resources on or off base so they know what’s available to them. The children’s play center is also open to everyone as well.”
With one-on-one in-processing, every appointment will look different and will be tailored to the Airman to receive personalized treatment.
“You have one chance to make a first impression,” Strain said. “We hope to give that initial feeling of belonging here and show off our available resources and to make that a natural part of everyday here at Little Rock AFB.”
According to Wynn, the welcome center may add more agencies over time to try and find the best fit for what works for the base.
“Our goal is to show people when they come here they are a part of ‘Herk Nation’ and a part of our community, and we are all better for it,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Gerald Donohue, 19th AW commander. “We need to let them know they are welcomed into our family immediately and throughout their time here at Little Rock. That will enable us to continue to have strong ties with our Airmen and their families, and ultimately it will benefit our Air Force as a whole by promoting resilience from the start.”
Expect to see more movements of personnel and helping agencies across the base as Team Little Rock takes a broad, deliberate approach to position staff to respond to Airmen when and where they need it, and to help ensure Airmen are getting the best, most efficient care possible.
-Director of Staff
-Special Victims’ Counsel
Walters Community Support Center
-Community Support Coordinator
-Violence Prevention (Green Dot)
For the most current information, Airmen and their families are encouraged to download the Little Rock AFB App.