1/23/2013 – WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force released the results of the service-wide health and welfare inspections that were completed in an effort to emphasize an environment of respect, trust and professionalism in the workplace.
“Every Airman deserves to be treated with respect. They also deserve to work in a professional environment,” said Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff. “I’ve talked with Airmen across the force, and believe that some units were not meeting those standards. It’s simply unacceptable that we have people who don’t feel comfortable in their workplace, so we’re addressing it, head on.”
The purpose of the inspection was to reinforce expectations for the workplace environment, correct deficiencies, and deter conditions that may be detrimental to good order and discipline. Commanders looked for and removed items that hinder a professional working environment.
Commanders inspected thousands of units at more than 100 Air Force installations, where almost 600,000 Air Force military and civilian personnel work. Commanders looked for and removed three broad categories of material: pornographic, inappropriate or offensive, or unprofessional.
According to the results, in the three categories, the Air Force found 631 instances of pornography (magazines, calendars, pictures, videos that intentionally displayed nudity or depicted acts of sexual activity); 3,987 instances of unprofessional material (discrimination, professional appearance, items specific to local military history such as patches, coins, heritage rooms, log books, song books, etc); and 27,598 instances of inappropriate or offensive items (suggestive items, magazines, posters, pictures, calendars, vulgarity, graffiti). In total, 32,216 items were reported.
Identified items were documented and either removed or destroyed. In some instances, findings were turned over to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations where appropriate. The areas inspected were all government workspaces and shared common areas such as briefing rooms, break rooms and computer drives.
The health and welfare inspection is a tool routinely used by unit commanders, command chiefs and first sergeants. Welsh tasked commanders during the Nov. 28 Wing Commanders Call to examine their work settings and ensure Airmen at all levels consistently apply standards of professionalism and respect across the service.
“The Air Force succeeds because of the professionalism and discipline of our Airmen,” Welsh said. “We have a significant number of Airmen who feel they have to ‘go along to get along’ by ignoring inappropriate images, workplace comments, or other material that makes them uncomfortable. That’s simply not the Air Force we want to be. EVERY Airman is critically important and everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Anything less reflects a lack of discipline and a failure to honor our values. It also marginalizes great Airmen, degrades mission effectiveness and hurts unit morale. We simply can’t, and won’t, tolerate it.”
The inspections are one in a series of moves the Air Force has undertaken to combat sexual assault. The Air Force conducted bystander intervention training service-wide, examined supplementary training for commanders and made multiple avenues of support available to every victim of sexual assault. Support services include counseling, medical, mental health, and safety services and victim advocates among other things.
Also of note, the Air Force launched a pilot program designed to provide legal assistance to victims of sexual assault that will begin later this month. Starting Jan. 28, The Special Victims’ Counsel Program will give sexual assault victims legal assistance and help them navigate the criminal justice system with lawyers trained to handle their unique needs.