Vaccines, telework and more addressed at AFMC Virtual Town Hall

  • Published
  • By Marisa Alia-Novobilski
  • Air Force Materiel Command

Air Force Materiel Command leaders addressed hot topics from across the command during a virtual town hall, April 27.

Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., AFMC Commander, was joined by Patricia M. Young, AFMC Executive Director and Chief Master Sgt. Stanley C. Cadell, AFMC Command Chief, on a Microsoft Commercial Virtual Remote Teams live event viewed by over 6,000 Airmen from across the mission footprint.

Bunch kicked-off the event by highlighting the digital campaign and efforts towards diversity and inclusion as his top two focus areas for AFMC as he commences his third year of leadership in the organization. He also mentioned ongoing efforts in software innovation, facilities and talent acquisition as key to continued enterprise success.

“I need everyone to stay focused on the information that we’re putting out there so that you can understand where we’re going and how it may impact you,” said Bunch. “We need to be focused so we can execute speed with discipline to try to get after the many efforts that we have.”

The discussion began with an update on COVID-19 and vaccines, two ongoing topics of widespread interest across the command. Bunch talked about command-wide vaccination efforts and the support AFMC Airmen are providing nationwide in critical areas.

“It is still a big push to get as many Airmen and their families vaccinated as possible. We continue to encourage uniformed and non-uniformed Airmen aged 16 and above to get those shots as quickly as possible so that we can try and get us to the point that we have herd immunity and can be more free with what we can do,” said Bunch.

Though the vaccine is still under emergency use authorization and not yet mandatory for military or civilian Airmen, Bunch encouraged personnel to speak with medical providers to understand benefits and risks, so that they can make better informed decisions for themselves and their family.

“Get the facts and have a dialogue to make sure that you’re making an informed decision…not one based off rumor or what you may see on the internet,” he said. “We are encouraging everyone to get the vaccine so that they can protect themselves and the others around them.”

Bunch also talked about the nationwide support AFMC Airmen are providing to augment community efforts to distribute vaccines across all populations.

“I had the privilege of visiting the site in Detroit where we have 200 Airmen deployed, and over 150 of them are from AFMC…they’re doing great community outreach, putting close to 7,000 shots in arms every day. I am really proud of the great work by all of our Airmen,” he said.

With many AFMC Airmen continuing to telework and the recent publication of the AFMC Telework Guide, many event participants had questions on current guidelines and the future status of workplace operations.

“You have demonstrated that you can get the work done (through telework), and we are not going back to the way things were before,” said Bunch. “We’re going to open that aperture more and use it more as a tool as we move into the future. There are still a lot of items that we need to work through and making sure we have the right connectivity. We’re going to continue to make investments in the infrastructure....we’re looking at our facilities and how this impacts our utilization of those facilities. We ask for your patience as we work through this process.”

In regards to return-to-full capacity, Bunch reiterated the importance of remaining flexible and for individuals to work with their supervisors to determine what can be done from home and that which requires work to be done in the physical workplace.

“I am not rushing this. I am not setting a mandate. We’re getting the mission done,” he said. “There are some people who want to come back into the office and some who have not been able to telework due to their mission….work with your supervisors to figure out what you can or can’t do and whether you can come back into the office or not. I have not said any date as long as we’re getting the mission done and we are demonstrating we can get it done.”

Related to the telework discussion, the leaders also reiterated the importance of adhering to the Department of Defense-wide mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, and upcoming changes to telework technology as the Air Force phases out CVR teams over the next few weeks. The leaders also spoke of the importance of maintaining a good work-life balance and physical activity, particularly when the workspace and personal space are one in the same.

“Telework gives more flexibility and a little more time at home when not commuting. Look into that flexibility…do you have time to work-out in the morning or evening when you would usually be commuting? We encourage everyone to take care of themselves, and remember to balance your personal lives with the workload,” said Young.

The event continued with discussions on the results of the recent diversity and inclusion survey and ongoing command efforts to provide for greater diversity in recruitment, hiring and promotion. The leaders also addressed the continued focus on enterprise-wide diversity and inclusion training to ensure an environment where every Airman has the opportunity to succeed.

“We have to demonstrate and help our workforce understand what the right behaviors are…how do you make someone feel included? How do you build that teamwork?” said Bunch.

“The big picture is that we need to create effective teams...we need to do everything we can to ensure that on those teams everybody is respected and that we have created an environment where we all have the potential to grow into our full capabilities,” said Cadell.

In the latter part of the town hall event, the leaders addressed topics including accountability, the recent extremism down day, facility upgrades, performance appraisal systems and progress in the AFMC Digital Campaign. The event concluded with the leaders expressing appreciation for the widespread participation and a reminder for all to continue to remain curious and ask questions.

“Thank you for what you do. It’s an exciting time to be in the Air Force,” said Bunch. “I am nearing the two year point of having the honor and privilege of serving as the commander of AFMC with a great leadership team…you are doing the hard work and making the mission happen. Thank you for all that you do as our most valuable resource.”

AFMC Airmen can view the full town hall on Microsoft Streams via the emailed link. A link to follow-up queries and responses will be sent to all internal audiences in the next few weeks.