Expeditionary Center wing forges warrior hearts

  • Published
  • U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Public Affairs
The United States Air Force Expeditionary Center commander, Maj. Gen. John Klein, and the USAFEC command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Courtney Freeman, visited with Airmen of the 87th Air Base Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Feb. 8. The visit allowed the command team to see the strides Airmen are making to support the Expeditionary Center’s first line of effort: forging warrior hearts.

Leaders from the joint base have taken this charge seriously, and have focused efforts on preparing some of the youngest Airmen on the installation for some of the tasks they’ll be asked to accomplish at the installation, and beyond.

“Our goal in creating the new and improved life skills courses is to touch on some of the most common stressors that our service members face in their personal lives: relationships, finances and home skills,” said Tech. Sgt. Kristina Calla, 87th Force Support Squadron readiness noncommissioned officer. “Our hope is that they will provide service members and families with the skills needed to take a proactive approach towards ensuring their physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing.”

She went on to highlight some of the positive impacts the courses at the Military & Family Readiness Center have already had on service members.

“Classes such as Healthy Living, Cooking Skills and our monthly Couples Lunch & Learn courses take a proactive approach in getting ahead of issues before they arise and providing the JB MDL community with tools from some of our local subject matter experts on necessary life skills,” Calla said. “Additionally, many of the financial courses that we currently offer have made significant impact on JB MDL service members and families.”

Forging warrior hearts doesn’t just mean providing tools for young Airmen that support their personal lives. The Airman Leadership School at JB MDL is also providing professional tools to make young Airmen successful throughout their careers.

“As the ALS on the installation with the Expeditionary Center we took the Warrior Heart initiative very seriously,” said Master Sgt. Brent Hicks, ALS commandant. “We have made great progress toward the culture building, standard, and discipline mindsets. It was a true pleasure to be able to showcase the things that we are doing to get after what matters most across our force.”

The ALS commandant noted that the problems that ALS students have decided to tackle impact the base, and potentially the entire force, and are actively researching ways to mitigate them .

“We are almost always surprised by what the students bring forward as installation level issues,” Hicks explained. “We are even more surprised by the innovative solutions that they are able to come up with. They have not shied away from any difficult topics ranging from mental health stigmas to $10 million indoor shooting ranges.”

Calla expressed the seriousness with which leaders of the 87th ABW take this charge to prepare Airmen.

“Through our Fortified Warrior and Families briefings, life skills, relationships and finance courses, and Personal Readiness briefing, our team is hopeful that we will be able to fortify service members and their families the necessary training, preparation, connection, and support, both personally and professionally, to institutionalize readiness as a constant state and to prepare & posture for the next fight with confidence.”