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Calling on everyone to ensure a safe, successful school year

  • Published
  • By Col. Matthew Molineux
  • 6th Operations Group commander
It's "Back to School" on MacDill AFB and in the greater Tampa Bay area!

This is an exciting time for us and our children, but it isn't without areas that require our continued vigilance. With increased traffic and other stressors in general, we need YOUR help to be safe and successful.

First, the 6th Security Forces Squadron expects increased morning traffic and potential delays at the base gates. We will continue to have additional manpower present to assist in keeping base entry flowing efficiently, but I recommend taking this into account for the next couple of weeks until the traffic levels out. Be aware around the school buses as our children will be out and about -- some as first-time riders.

This isn't the only place that will have increased traffic, though -- don't forget the schools!

Another area of concern with respect to traffic will be in the vicinity of Tinker Elementary School here on MacDill AFB. It's natural there will be some confusion as parents and students converge on the school again to begin another action-packed year of academics. Please pay close attention when transiting the area so we can keep everyone safe! We will have additional Security Forces personnel in the area to help with traffic, but they will tell you nothing takes the place of following all the directional signs and speed limits.

By the way, while this experience in itself is stressful, pay attention to your children and yourselves for other stressors from starting school too.

It won't be news to those preparing for the beginning of the school year that there is a huge schedule shift about to happen. Please look out for yourselves and mitigate the extra stress the way you've learned to deal with other stressors: be sure to exercise, pay attention to proper nutrition, and take time for yourself. In other words, strive to be physically, mentally, and spiritually fit. This will pay dividends and we will all be better for it in the end.

So, this is the first year of school for some of your children. What an experience you're going to have! I recommend sitting down with the first-timers to discuss bus safety, including behavior while riding, entering and exiting, crossing the streets, and how to keep in view of the driver when in the vicinity of the school bus. Five minutes could determine the difference between success and failure when it comes to bus safety!

Lastly, remember there are base resources available to you, should issues arise with respect to your children in school. The MacDill Airman and Family Readiness Center stands by to assist and has a School Liaison Officer, Nelly Richards, who can facilitate communication with area schools. The Airman and Family Readiness Center can be reached at 828-0146 or at

The MacDill family and the surrounding communities enjoy a great relationship working to provide an exceptional educational experience for our children. So, enjoy these exciting times, be aware, and help us provide a safe environment in which to go "Back to School!"