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Travis AFB, local community enhance trust to work through common issues

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jonathon Carnell
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – So many things that go on around Travis AFB are unpredictable: wildfires, hazardous air quality or responding to a pandemic.

One thing that is not unpredictable, though, is Travis AFB’s communication with the local community when such catastrophes enter the gate or neighboring regions.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and California wildfires, the community engagement team at Travis AFB has hosted virtual meetings between community partners and base leadership to keep each other connected – relationships which rely on each other’s support.

“The 60th Civil Engineer Squadron sent out firefighters to assist neighboring fire departments at the onset of the LNU wildfire,” said Louis Briscese, 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs community engagement chief. “Thanks to the coordination between the 60th CES and local firefighters, they were able to combine efforts to better manage the fire.”

Briscese said this is just one recent example of how Travis AFB is there for the community.

“This year has been a pretty intense time for everyone,” said Sandy Person, who has been a U.S. Air Force civic leader since 2018. “Who could have imagined we’d all be so impacted in so many ways by COVID-19?”

Air Force civic leaders partner with Travis AFB, who in turn connect with local government officials who then, also connect with community partners to keep an ecosystem of communication flowing. Each invests in resources and programs that help us come up with solutions, might problems arise like the LNU complex fires, Person explained.

With more than 30 years of involvement with military installations Person understands the importance of these key relationships.

To grow such relationships, the community engagement team hosted an off-base honorary commanders tour Oct. 9, 2020, at the Wiseman Company’s One Harbor Center, just south of Travis AFB–their first since COVID restrictions were put in place.

“This event was different than most,” Briscese said. “Generally, our honorary commanders get to experience what our Airmen do every day. That wasn’t possible because of COVID-19. Fortunately, the tour was still able to happen due to us following COVID-19 guidelines.”

In the past, honorary commanders have visited various base units and had hands on demonstrations. Briscese, the 28-year Air Force veteran, said the event allowed honorary commanders the ability to understand Travis AFB’s mission.

Following COVID-19 guidelines allowed honorary commanders like Zen Hunter-Ishikawa the ability to perform their duties as a community ambassador, something that struck a personal chord for him.

“In many ways, civilians ‘outside the gate’ speak a different cultural language than service members ‘inside the gate,’” said Hunter-Ishikawa.

Hunter-Ishikawa relishes in the involvement he gets to have with base and civilian communities, a position Briscese lauds in importance.

“I have and can make a positive difference in others’ lives and livelihoods,” Hunter-Ishikawa said.

Bridging the gap between civilian and service members enhances relationships and tightens the base and community partnership, said Briscese.

We’re all at this weird crossroads when it comes to trying figure out ‘what’s next.’ There isn’t a clear road because COVID-19 brings on such an unprecedented and unpredictable future.

When posed with the question at the honorary commander’s event, “What’s next?” Briscese seemed to crack a smile as he told everyone, “I don’t know, but we’ll be better together.”