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50th FSS program 'Unites' Airmen

Eric McCullough, 50th Force Support Squadron community cohesion coordinator, reviews paperwork events for the Unite program in his office at the 50th Space Wing Building on February 21, 2020. McCullough creates events for each unit to choose from but the unit is permitted to pick an activity outside of the selection provided by McCullough. (U.S. Air Force photo by Marcus Hill)

Eric McCullough, 50th Force Support Squadron community cohesion coordinator, reviews paperwork events for the Unite program in his office at the 50th Space Wing Building on February 21, 2020. McCullough creates events for each unit to choose from but the unit is permitted to pick an activity outside of the selection provided by McCullough. (U.S. Air Force photo by Marcus Hill)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

The 50th Force Support Squadron’s Unite Initiative continues to benefit Airmen and families with its numerous activities and events for its members.

The program provides funds to units to use to help build cohesion through recreational activities and improve morale within the squadrons. It also serves as another tool for commanders to help morale and welfare. 

Air Force Services Activity developed the program after Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein challenged the Air Force to improve unity within its squadrons in August 2016 in an open letter to Airmen. 

“It is time to revitalize the squadron as the warfighting core of our Air Force,” Goldfein said in the letter. “Our vision demands that squadrons be highly capable, expeditionary teams who can successfully defend our nation’s interest in both today’s and tomorrow’s complex operating environment.”

Unite is currently in its second of three phases. The first began in 2019 with eligible regular Air Force units at wing-level and below. Phase two of the program, which began in January, will include Phase one and active, reserve and civilians at wing-level and below.

Eric McCullough, 50th FSS community cohesion coordinator, creates various team-bonding events for units to choose from and strives to find activities everyone can enjoy.

“What we’re committed to doing is getting the best services or events and activities for the squadrons,” McCullough said. “That’s the cool piece to the job – finding those activities for the units to do. We’re the keeper of the program in a sense. This is a people-program, so it belongs to us.”

Each unit receives $13.50 per person and $5 per person for food and beverages, which cannot be used to purchase alcohol. Units can do events that cost more than $13.50 but have to pay the remaining fee out of pocket. The unit can spend those funds once per year. 

Although that’s down from $17.50 compared to 2019, Airmen still enjoy the activities out of the office.

“We’ve received good feedback from the units who have held events,” McCullough said. “This year, we want to improve and grow on it. It’s a great opportunity to get offices and flights out of the office and into different environments and get to know each other on a personal level. That’s the key for this.”

Those ventures in 2019 took Airmen to a plethora of activities and events. While some of the activities can occur on base, many also happen elsewhere.

“Units can do Whirly Ball, which is downtown. We go to Vibes baseball games and you get a ticket to the game and a free buffet and you get to sit in VIP seating. We do Switchbacks soccer, Legends mini golf and batting cages and bowling at [United State Air Force Academy],” McCullough said. “They can also create their own event. They might go downtown and find their own or go somewhere and say, ‘We’d like to do laser tag at this location’ and we can do that as well.”

Janet Cramer, 50th FSS Resource Management flight chief, used Unite funds in January to go bowling with her unit at Whirly Ball.

During the event, Cramer learned about Airmen’s lives outside of the office – an experience that benefitted her as well as the unit.

“It’s hard to get away from work, but when they did, we did a great job of getting to know each other better,” Cramer said. “We had a friendly competition at bowling, we ate pizza. It was a fun experience. It was great to get to let our hair down.”

More importantly, Cramer faced no issues using Unite funds to create the activity.

“It was so simple,” Cramer said. “My [information technology] person called and told Eric what we wanted to do. Eric called Whirly Ball and talked to them about prices. He immediately said that he worked with someone there and paid.”

The third phase of the program begins January 2021 and, along with members from the initial phases, will include Air Force headquarters and centers above wing level.

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