Commentary: Your Force Support Squadron doors are open

Don’t give up on community engagement

I remember reading a poem in late March 2020 that hits me more now than it did even then. The poem urged readers to never again take for granted a “crowded theater, Friday night out … coffee with a friend, the stadium roaring … a boring Tuesday.”

My wife and I had just completed a permanent change of station to Hanscom Air Force Base, right outside Boston. We were patronizing the base movie theater, Force Support Squadron fitness center and Army & Air Force Exchange Service vendors. We were enjoying local eateries, historical wanderings and sporting events.

We were looking forward to enjoying all New England had to offer, ready to fully become a part of the installation and local community. And then, we were locked down.

Sometimes, I forget just how locked down we were. We didn’t eat out, attend church or go to the theater for months. Those had been weekly activities.

As I write this, I’m fully aware COVID-19 is not “over” and individuals have varying comfort levels with regard to social interaction and engaging in community activities. My goal here is not to make blanket recommendations or advocate for unwise decision-making.

But I am here to tell you the 88th Force Support Squadron is not over, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as an installation has a myriad of activities to help you connect with your family and friends.

Wright-Patt’s FSS is open and ready for you to engage. From the fitness centers and Wright-Patterson Club to the golf courses and bowling center, we are here to welcome you back. When was the last time you went to the club for “First Friday” and enjoyed a beverage and camaraderie with your fellow teammates?

These facilities need your support to stay open and provide outstanding service to our installation. And did you know that proceeds from AAFES go back to supporting your morale, welfare and recreation activities? (And where else can you see a movie for as low as $6.50?)

Of course, I want you to support our activities from a business perspective, but even more, I want you to come out for your own health and a sense of community on WPAFB.

We all suffered from some level of isolation during the heights of COVID. Whether it was isolation from other people, normal activities, or both, that hit us hard. Regardless of worldview, everyone agrees humans need community. We need time and activities with our families to connect and unwind, and we need those campfire talks after work with our battle partners. Our FSS offers opportunities for both and more.

Those on-base services – fitness centers, Kittyhawk Lanes, hobby shops – they are all part of our military installation culture. Some, like the club, are part of our heritage. When was the last time you stopped to reflect on all the military leaders throughout the years who have stepped foot in our Wright-Patterson Club?

I urge you, in a time where many are more concerned about binging the latest streaming show while simultaneously ready to leave the great indoors – don’t give up on connecting and continuing to support your installation.

I mentioned that poem perhaps hits me harder now than it did back then. How we did take for granted that personal connection before, and how we longed for it as we endured months of abnormality. I don’t want to take those moments, those relationships or those outings for granted again.

I want to fully enjoy my popcorn and soda with my wife and friends in a crowded theater for a Friday night first-run release. I want to revel in the power of a roaring crowd at a local sporting event. I want to relish a buffet at the club with my office on just another boring Tuesday. I don’t want to take those moments of living for granted anymore, and I don’t want you to either.

So come and see – come to eat, drink and be merry. We are here waiting for you.

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