BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. is a small base when compared to others, however, the 460th Space Wing mission is essential to the overall Air Force mission. The backbone of this mission is made of the space operators in the 460th Operations Group.
Working 12-hour shifts that actually culminate to around 14 hours to provide space-based missile warning is a stressful job. The operators rely heavily on each other, but are also provided many resources on Buckley AFB.
These resources, known as helping agencies, allow operators to focus on their job knowing that there are people out there helping them in all aspects of their lives, both work and personal.
All of these agencies focus on taking care of Airmen, but each has an emphasis that caters to the need of each specific Airman.
“These are the services that help the mission in that we don’t have to seek them out ourselves, we always know where to go,” said Senior Airman Kevin Justice, 460th OG staff evaluator.
Some of the helping agencies on Buckley AFB include the education office, Airmen and Family Readiness Center, and the Chaplain Corps.
The education office provides a necessary resource by showing Airmen to know the best ways to further their education both in the military and civilian worlds.
“The education office is a big deal for me personally, and for a lot of crew members as well,” said Justice. “A lot of people want to take advantage of the education benefits while it’s covered by the military and outside of serving the unit it is a part of personal development.”
Whether it is CLEP tests, picking the right school or even picking specific classes, the Buckley Education Office provides the base with an opportunity to advance their education through help from trained advisors that understand the military lifestyle.
“Personally, the education office has provided me with counseling to direct my education in the right path for me,” said Justice.
The AFRC is another office that provides help to military members and their families.
AFRC offers numerous programs to those on Buckley AFB including career focus, family life education, and financial services.
Military members and their families sometimes go through financial struggles and the AFRC provides financial advisors to help discuss options. One of the opportunities provided is the Air Force Aid Society Falcon Loan.
“During a move, my wife got into a car accident and she was in Maryland at the time, the Falcon Loan came in handy for that,” said Tech. Sgt. Hendrikus Van Zoest, 460th Operations Support Squadron staff instructor. “It was real quick just to call them up and tell them my situation, they got me on their schedule and I received the loan that day.
“The Falcon Loan helped us pay bills, we had to pay a down payment and get a rental car, which only covers a small car, but we have four kids so a small car didn’t really work for us” added van Zoest. “That allowed us to pay our bills and move on from that situation.”
Computer access is also available in the AFRC.
“As an operator, it’s a unique situation where for me to get to a computer,” said Van Zoest. “It takes me going through many access points along with numerous other security measures, that’s the process for me to get to my office. So when it’s late or super early and I need to check an email, I’m better off going to Airmen and Family Readiness.”
The AFRC allows military members the opportunity to concentrate on their job and the space mission.
“Without the Airmen and Family Readiness Center, I wouldn’t have been able to focus on doing my job because I would have been worried about how I’m going to take care of my family,” said Van Zoest.
The Buckley Chapel is a spiritual outlet that focuses on the individual needs of each Airman.
“As far as the chapel goes, we had an Airman commit suicide about a year ago and the chaplain at the time was really helpful,” said Justice. “He called me at home to get to know the type of Airman the guy was and I was blown away, it was a huge deal to me.”
The chapel covers a variety of issues including individual counseling, relationship and family concerns, work issues, stress and anger management, suicide ideation, spiritual concerns and ethical issues.
“If you are having issues that could affect your job or you personally, I would go to the chaplain first and they can point you in the right direction,” said Justice.
Military members have a concern for personal issues affecting their career and the chapel provides them an opportunity to discuss their concerns in a completely confidential environment.
Other helping agencies available on Buckley AFB include, mental health, the area defense council, equal opportunity, sexual assault response coordinators, military and family life counselors, and the alcohol and drug prevention and treatment program.
There are programs offered off base that provide similar services, however the Buckley AFB helping agencies are designed to cohesively work with military members, and on this base specifically to space operators.
“There is comfort in knowing that you can go to these agencies that are available on base and they understand you and are tailored to your lifestyle as a military members,” said Justice.