FRIENDSVILLE, Tenn. — The Air National Guard’s training and education center in East Tennessee recently held two core organizational events virtually that would fill an auditorium under normal circumstances.
The interactive gatherings online included the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center’s quarterly commander’s call, as well as the organization’s all-staff tactical pause day. They are the most extensive and latest gatherings of assigned personnel to be affected by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
“We are operating in a safe environment, and I am grateful for the technology in being able to reach out to you at this time,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Kenneth Lozano, the commander, during his virtual conference to the 80-plus TEC faculty and staff.
The regular U.S. Air Force, Guard, and Reserve Airmen have worked from home since mid-March by commuting through email, telephone, and online meeting apps. Classes suspended at the campus, which usually graduates thousands of total force Airmen in enlisted professional military education and PME annually.
“We are physically distant, but I feel that we are even closer now than we were before,” said Colonel Lozano. In the online event, the commander explained the organization’s priorities and goals going into the summer, to include ongoing efforts to begin offering a substantial amount of virtual EPME and PME for the Air Force and the National Guard as early as next month and through the year.
As in a traditional commander’s call, leaders recognized those earning awards and high-achievements as well as TEC’s incoming and outgoing personnel. Mandatory, recurrent briefings were also accomplished.
In the other event, TEC’s virtual tactical pause provided a means for Airmen to focus on a sense of belonging, to include personal wellness and their dedication to each other during the challenges of home isolation.
They overcame lockdown restrictions by submitting, compiling, and sharing their messages of support in personal videos recorded from their homes.
“The videos that you have compiled are so much fun and show us how great of a team TEC really is,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Grace Mayor, a PME instructor who helped to organize the effort through a tactical pause team.
More than 30 video clips show a heartfelt and funny melee of what dealing with the lockdown looks like for Airmen and their families as well as communicates well wishes.
“We were able to come together, even though we are isolated away from each other, and we can still have a sense of belonging,” said Sergeant Mayor.
TEC’s leaders stressed that taking care of team TEC is its number one priority. Its principal focus area of Inclusion, where a sense of belonging generates, ties to the organization’s holistic initiatives recently released in a five-year strategic plan that includes the vision to be agile, innovative, and resilient.
Small virtual groups met after the video’s release to share stories, experiences, and give feedback on things that help each other feel connected. Discussions were guided by a set of questions to promote conversation. The organization also scheduled an online BINGO game with door prizes.