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VPI strengthens connections with kits

The Schriever violence prevention integrator created connection kits to distribute to commanders at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. Jessica Ditson, Schriever violence prevention integrator, designed the kits to build stronger connections with Airmen and their leadership. The kits includes: books booklets, ice-breaker items, tokens and fidget items. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely)

The Schriever violence prevention integrator created connection kits to distribute to commanders at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. Jessica Ditson, Schriever violence prevention integrator, designed the kits to build stronger connections with Airmen and their leadership. The kits includes: books booklets, ice-breaker items, tokens and fidget items. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

The phrase, “Connect with your Airmen,” is tossed around frequently, but “how” is never clear, prompting the Schriever violence prevention integrator to create Schriever leadership connection kits.

Jessica Ditson, Schriever VPI, selected 14 items to include in the kits.

“Connection kits are full of things for commanders to start conversations with those who work with and for them,” said Ditson. “The kits have everything from professional development-oriented books to fun ice breakers to get to know Airmen better.”

The kits are available to all commanders, first sergeants and superintendents, and are based on the needs of the total force.

Lt. Col. Timothy Ryan, 4th Space Operations Squadron commander, said his leadership has used the contents of the kits during introductions with new Airmen in the squadron.

“Some of the [items] really make you think and can help connect individual personalities around the office and squadron,” Ryan said. “It really is helpful to break the ice with questions that are not normally asked in an everyday settings and allows you to learn more and connect with teammates while making them feel comfortable.”

Ditson said by building stronger connections, the risk factors for suicide become mitigated as Airmen can find a sense of belongingness and feel more included when leadership approaches with intent to engage at a personal level.

“If we start to dig deeper and inquire about who our Airmen really are, it creates a connection that’s more personal,” she said. “When you create a personal connection, it builds trust, so maybe that Airman who’s going through something will feel more comfortable talking to you about it instead of considering alternatives.”

Col. James Smith, Peterson-Schriever Garrison commander, prioritized building stronger relationships among Airmen, which is why it’s a no brainer to create and distribute the connection kits.

“We don’t always see each other enough because we work behind a series of doors that separate us,” she said. “So being intentional about the time we have together is extremely important. We need to do better to reinforce how important we are to each other.”

For more information and to get a kit, call Ditson at 567-3700.

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