From the Top: Reaching Out to Deployed Family Members; 14 AF/CC returns to Shark Country

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A few weeks ago, 22 members of the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron deployed from Patrick Air Force Base for a six-month tour in the Middle East.

Their mission will be to serve with the 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force (BEEF) Group.

That unit, which was originally formed by U.S. Central Command in September 2009, is made up of Active Duty, Reserve and Air National Guard Airmen from Civil Engineer, Communications, Force Support and Logistics Readiness career fields from all around the world.

More than 70 Air Force Bases have committed personnel to this team.

Although our Airmen will be based at Al Udeid, Qatar, they will be deploying forward to serve and support Army and Marine Forward Operating Bases throughout Afghanistan.

The team will be tasked with finding and fixing hazards which pose an immediate threat to a service member's safety, among several other tasks they will be expected to do.

This is not a walk-in-the-park deployment by any means. These professionals will be doing challenging work in a challenging environment.

Since 2008, the 45th Space Wing has deployed approximately 700 Airmen in support of our national security needs. In addition, our mission partners here on the Space Coast, especially the 920th Rescue Wing, have deployed many service members into harm's way.

Many of us know first-hand that these deployments are not easy on the family members left behind. I ask that you do everything you can to keep an eye on them and offer a helping hand whenever they need one. It doesn't have to be anything big. Invite them to your house for a cook out; ask them if they need help around the house doing yard work or other jobs. Give them a call and ASK how they are doing.

Very often, you'd be surprised how much of a difference reaching out can make. One of my favorite events we hold monthly on base is the Deployed Family Member Dinner. This program is hosted by the Airman & Family Readiness Center on the fourth Tuesday of each month and is sponsored by private organizations, such as Top 3. The base feeds anywhere from 40-80 deployed family members per month. A&FRC encourages commanders to attend, sit and eat with spouses and children of deployed members. It's a wonderful opportunity to learn the true stories of our Airmen and their families. Simply put, there's nothing better than putting a smile on a family member's face and knowing you are helping them through difficult times.

Switching gears, I'd like to thank all of you who supported Lt Gen Helms' visit to Patrick AFB and the Cape. After her Commander's Call, General Helms, as well as the 14 AF Command Chief, CMSgt Vannorsdall, received updates on many projects you are currently working. In addition, they were able to visit newly remodeled quality of life facilities here at Patrick. Her visit culminated with tours of facilities and launch hardware at the Cape. "Snark" provided them with an appropriate Team Patrick sendoff from the Skid Strip!

Please remember Gen Helms' five takeaways from this week's CC call.

1. Understand the importance of your mission.
2. Embrace change.
3. Be innovative.
4. Airmen need to take care of each other.
5. Keep doing (the great things) that you're doing.

Finally, remember the victims and loved ones of those who were killed or injured during the recent shooting in Aurora, Colo. Keep pushing, Sharks!