Building a Caring Community

  • Published
  • By Nancy Koch-Castillo and Edwards Helping Agencies
  • 412th Test Wing
As we sat there in the Justin Room on Dec. 30 at 1 p.m., preparing to brief the last Community Action Information Board for 2013 to base leaders, Colonel Daetz began the discussion by asking a question, "What do you like about Edwards?"

One individual answered the beautiful sunsets, another person answered the wide-open space and yet another person answered the climate. Colonel Daetz replied, "Those are all excellent answers, but do you know what I like about Edwards?--the people."

Edwards is no different than any other place people work, play and live. Yes, we may be in what some might say is a remote location, but this is up for interpretation.

Geographically, we are 99 miles northeast of Los Angeles, Calif., 211 miles west of Las Vegas, Nev., 367 miles south of Sacramento, Calif., and 186 miles north of San Diego, Calif. So for folks to be dismal about the location I would argue it is not as bleak as it is made out to be. There are sites and activities to get involved in right outside our gates.

Back to my main point of liking the people of Edwards, like anywhere else people can make or break any situation. If you create a harmonious atmosphere and a sense that those around you care, then you will tend to build a cohesive and positive community.

We all know 2013 had its share of challenges: two Department of Defense Civilian Furloughs, budget cuts across the government, and the upcoming 2014 Force Shaping proposing to cut 25,000 military and 900 civilian positions. At Edwards, though, we are still managing to push ahead. Since the beginning of 2013, Edwards has made great strides in developing a "Caring Community."

One of the most significant improvements made in 2013 by the 412th Test Wing Helping Agencies was the implementation of the 412th Test Wing Shield icon at the bottom of everyone's computer. If you click on this icon, the Edwards Helping Agencies directory will come up that lists a description of each helping agency their address and phone numbers. We encourage everyone to click on this icon to see the services available to the Edwards community.

Other highlights of Edwards' Helping Agencies successes for 2013 are as follows:

Airman and Family Readiness Flight

One of the main successes of 2013 was when the Airman and Family Readiness Flight relocated from Building 3000 to the former conference center, Building 5620. The location is centrally located next to the military family housing, the Child Development Center and near the 412th Medical Group. In this facility, the Airman and Family Readiness Flight can provide all the required services to the community and they also have room to accommodate a variety of base events and ceremonies as well.

The Airman and Family Readiness Flight provided 296 workshops and 210 Coordination and Outreach activities. They made 24,000 informal contacts through the Discovery Resource Center, information and referral, telephone calls, emails, workshop sign-ups, copiers and faxes.


At our Chapel we hosted a "Move the Food" event in November that served 31 Active Duty, four retirees, 44 civilians, and one Department of Defense contractor for a total of 80 households and 500 pounds of food!

We are also continuing to host a weekly children and youth club called AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed) that is the largest in the DOD. Each week we have 200 and nine children, youth and volunteers who attend, growing in their faith.

Mental Health

The Mental Health Flight is comprised of various programs to include outpatient mental health, family advocacy and alcohol drug abuse and prevention programs. Although each element continues to strive to provide effective treatment, prevention, and outreach activities, we would just like to highlight some of our more successful events. We implemented biannual Mental Health Open Houses for base leadership and hosted one of the weekly First Sergeants breakfast meetings. During various special emphasis months we developed and implemented creative training opportunities to include a base wide "Did You Ask" event, interactive Empathy Belly presentations, unique Holiday Impulsivity briefings, New Dads 101 class, and Drunk Goggle Demonstrations.

In addition, a couple of important programs came back on line to include the New Parent Support Program, which offers voluntary home base support and the Family Advocacy Strength-Based Therapy program which involves couples and family intervention. Helping Agencies across the installation have been coming together to tackle suicide prevention and resiliency. Powerful articles about depression and suicide have been published to raise awareness, de-stigmatize asking for help, and to identify the resources available to all personnel in need.

Wingman Days and Resilience

Also offered were Wingman Day events with guest speakers Mr. Louis Zamperini (WWII POW hero), the main character in Laura Hillenbrand's best seller "Unbroken," and Mr. Norbie Lara from Visalia, Calif., with the Wounded-Warrior Project. In addition, Ms. Jennifer Housholder, the lead singer of her band Housband, performed for all of Edwards. In March, Edwards started offering Resilience training at the First Term Airman Center every third Wednesday of the month. We currently have five highly trained master resilience trainers here at Edwards: Ms. Jennifer Housholder, Master Sgt. Jesus Reyes, 1st Lt. Whitney Mithun, 1st Lt. Christopher Talbot and Tech. Sgt. Justin Clark. If any Edwards' member is interested in attending the six-hour resilience course offered at the First Term Airman Center the third Wednesday of every month please contact Ms. Nancy Koch-Castillo at 277-6711 or e-mail her at

Additional events held included Key Personnel Training that was offered to all the new Commanders, Chiefs and First Sergeants; Frontline Supervisor Training was offered at least every couple of months; Resilience Training for Leaders; Communication Pathway Course for the Edwards Community and couples; Stress Management courses; Mental Health Open Houses; EOD safety day training; Marital and couples counseling courses; and Financial management services were provided on a quarterly basis.

Non-profit organization

The Community Support Coordinator partnered with a local non-profit organization called Healing Horses and Armed Forces located in Tehachapi, Calif., who offers resilience training using equine assisted solutions. Ms. Rudolph has opened her ranch to the Edwards Community. She offers Saturday morning events from Women's Warrior Programs, Spouses Programs, Couples Programs, Family Programs and a Veterans Only Programs. For more information on upcoming events, please contact Ms. Charisse Rudolph at (661) 821-0482 or, horses4armforces@twitter or Healing Horses & Armed Forces @facebook

Sexual Assault Response Coordinator

The Sexual Assault Prevention Office stepped up marketing their program by posting flyers around the installation of the Victim Advocates. The team increased by five this past year. We want everyone to know who you can contact to report an assault and maintain privileged communication or get help in having the assault investigated. Additionally, in the near future, the office will open a new Sexual Assault Prevention Center, a room dedicated to peer-to peer discussion groups we plan to implement this year as part of training as well as a safe place a victim or anyone can come to talk and get information from the subject matter experts on sexual assault prevention.

School Liaison Officer

The School Liaison Officer provides technical expertise to the Edwards families on student issues and education. She works to remove barriers to facilitate communication between local school authorities, base leadership, and military/civilian families in an attempt to address and resolve issues in order to provide fluid quality education. The SLO partnered with the 412th TW to collaborate and coordinate the first ever Educational Partnership Agreement signed between the Muroc Joint Unified School District and the 412th TW. She also coordinated the partnership with Air Force Research Laboratory's Educational Outreach Manager in providing approval for the amendment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to include AFRL/RQR; the EPA enhances opportunities for students to develop critical skills needed to support the future STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers.

Christy McCoy serves as a communication link and assistance with inbound and outbound family members on educational issues and resources within the community. She also advocates and collaborates with various base agencies and provides information, referrals, and resources in support of families on subjects involving educational matters relating to public, private, home schooling and special needs. Christy McCoy is located in Building 5620 and can be contacted at (661) 277-2456 or

Equal Opportunity

Equal Opportunity (EO) staff members provide counseling for various workplace issues. EO manages discrimination complaint investigations, conducts inquiries and resolves workplace disputes through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program. The Special Emphasis Program (SEP) focus is on minorities and underrepresented groups in the workforce. Reasonable Accommodation and Disability Programs support interaction between employees with medical needs and their supervisors. Additional services are human relations training, guidance in equal opportunity and treatment complaints processing, complaint clarifications, facilitations, unit climate assessments and awareness training on subjects relating to cultural diversity, sexual harassment and workplace conflict. The EO office also provides sign language interpreter services for our deaf employees.

The EO office had a banner year. We handled over 100 contacts of which the majority of issues were resolved during the informal stage, utilizing Alternative Dispute Resolution (facilitation or mediation) as means of addressing issues. The EO office also assisted with 17 Reasonable Accommodation requests and other workplace arrangements. Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the Air Force transitioned from the Unit Climate Assessment survey tool to the Defense Equal Opportunity Climate Survey tool. This tool will standardize the climate assessment methodology throughout DOD and give senior officials a means of comparing the services across the board. Most units will be surveyed on an annual basis with the final report furnished to the unit commander and the next higher level commander in the chain of command.

Employee Assistance Program

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a pre-paid program created to help solve individual's problems and allow them to return to their work areas more focused. In 2013, the EAP office had some of the highest numbers in assistance in the nation. The program had a total of 536 individual sessions with 101 of these sessions being new clients (Average of 3.89 sessions per case). Additionally, EAP was involved in 57 management consults and multiple meetings, presentations and orientations.

Civilian Health Promotion Services

Civilian Health Promotions (CHPS) is a free program open to all appropriated-fund Air Force Materiel Command civilian employees, providing a variety of health education/prevention classes, Cardiac Risk Profile Screenings (CRPs), and multi-week programs in both weight and stress management. Our classes are open to anyone that works or lives on the base.

CHPS also promotes the AFMC Wellness Support Center ( which features online tools that connect you to health and wellness resources including: free Health Risk Appraisal (HRA), Personal Activity Logs, and Wellness Incentive Programs. In 2013, we more than doubled the amount of HRAs that were completed the previous year and we offered Heart and Soul, Be Active, and Freeze the Gain Incentive challenges.
CHPS saw our numbers improve across the board in 2013. We offered 139 classes with a total of 613 participants. We also performed 213 CRPs and 188 blood pressure screenings over the course of the year. Lastly, we participated in two health fairs to promote our office with approximately 270 attendees.

As you can see we have been successful in many regards in building a "Caring Community" and we hope to make even larger strides in 2014!

"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith." - Franklin D. Roosevelt