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The MacDill Community

  • Published
  • By Lt Col Jeff Krusinski
  • 6th Force Support Squadron commander
By the time you read this I will be deployed to Iraq serving as the Deputy Expeditionary Mission Support Group Commander at Joint Base Balad. While I am gone I will be missing the MacDill community, which I have grown to love over the past 2 years. Allow me to reflect upon what the MacDill community means to me and how much pride I take in serving the world's greatest customers each and every day.

The first aspect of our community is active duty and reserve uniformed members--without us, there just simply would not be a MacDill AFB. Here, the term "blue suiter" does not apply because we are truly more than that as you see members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Coalition Partners wearing the uniform each and every day to fulfill our important mission. Our military members have made incredible sacrifices since 1990 and especially since 2001. No other period in our history has seen a force that has been away from home for such a long period of time.

The next aspect of our community is our beautiful families. They may not be on base every day, and some live outside of the local area; but it is important for the people of MacDill AFB to recognize the contributions and sacrifices that family members make so that their loved one can serve our great nation. Last week was a focus week for the Year of the Air Force Family where we had many great events for families to include a Tops in Blue concert. The Year of the Air Force Family runs until July 2010 and we will be showcasing special events geared towards families to show them how much we care.

Let's not forget our civilian employees who provide us with an incredible amount of expertise and continuity to ensure our important mission does not miss a beat despite heavy permanent changes of station or deployment cycles. Our Air Force thinks enough of our civilian force to include them under the definition of "Airman," and that's very deserving when you consider the experience and skill sets these folks bring to the table.

Did you know that approximately 50 percent of civilian employees are family members of veterans or active duty, or are veterans themselves? So the next time you get a drink from a bartender at the club, or have an appointment with a civilian customer service representative, just know that they or their loved one probably served right alongside you at one time or another.

And last but not least, we are very privileged here at MacDill AFB to have such a large and active retiree population. Many live in the local area and some come down just for the winter to include 800 or so "Fam Campers" that will be driving their RV's on base within the next couple of weeks. They are constant reminders of the proud heritage we are faithful to and they continue to give back to our community through their loyalty at our clubs and other Morale Welfare and Recreation activities, and through their countless volunteer hours that bring $2 million in free labor to the base every year. My two favorite retirees are Roz and Richard who live locally, volunteer on base and never miss a Friday night at Seascapes. I see them everywhere I go and it is so nice to talk to them and hear what they think about our latest events.

I brag every chance I get to my peers across the Air Force about the great community we have here. I tell them how we are able to sustain Seascapes, Surf's Edge Club and the Bayshore Club while some bases cannot sustain 1 club. I tell them how we enjoy 36-holes of golf at Bay Palms while some bases have decided to close their golf course. I tell them how the entire base pulls together to deliver an annual 2-day Airfest when some bases can barely pull that off every other year. I tell them how we are building a $750,000 car wash using profits earned through AAFES and our MWR fund, which is a direct credit to the loyalty of all of our customers. Quite simply, our MacDill community works together and plays together to make this base fun and enjoyable for everyone regardless of the "uniform" they wear.

One thing I have learned after 19 years in uniform is that the military is a family. We have extremely high demands for our uniformed members and with that comes the expectation that they and their family members will be taken care of while serving, and for those who retire, for the rest of their lives. I challenge you to find a corporation anywhere in the world that even comes close to matching the combination of benefits and programs that we offer in the military to our employees, their families, and to retirees and their families. I'm proud to be the commander of the 6th Force Support Squadron, a 675-person organization that has the privilege to deliver many of those benefits and programs to the warfighter, their families, civilian employees, and retirees each and every day on this great military installation we call MacDill AFB. I'll return in 6 months, and I can't wait to get back home to you all!