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Funding concerns remain for morale, welfare programs

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Monique Randolph
  • Air Force News Agency
WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The director of Air Force Services testified before a house subcommittee April 17 about child care and other morale, welfare and recreation issues.

"We've had significant budget cuts, and we've seen our programs reduced across the board," Arthur Myers said to members of the House Armed Services Committee's panel on military personnel. "The Air Force is getting smaller, and it's a budget issue. We have to fight for all our requirements... and the word we're getting from the field (is that) Airmen are seeing their quality of life being eroded."

Child care remains a major concern for Airmen, he said. Over the past two years, Air Force officials have reduced the backlog of child care positions by 2,400, yet 4,000 positions are still needed, said Mr. Myers. Had it not been for emergency funding the Office of the Secretary of Defense helped obtain, the situation would be much worse, he said.

Another concern of his is the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure legislation that calls for Air Force programs at 10 locations to integrate into a joint-base configuration.

"The BRAC legislation drove us to examine our programs closely," said Mr. Myers. "We've been fully engaged in developing common standards of use for these bases. The quality of the life of our military personnel and their families should not be degraded."

It is important that MWR programs be funded to the highest standards possible, he said.

"Our goal continues to be for our Airmen and their families to enjoy the highest possible quality of life, with the highest possible standards for our MWR programs, regardless of who operates the base where they are stationed," Mr. Myers said in a prepared statement he submitted to the committee.

Library services also have seen significant funding cuts and provide a considerable benefit to Airmen and their families, he said.

"Customer visits to Air Force libraries exceeded 9 million and circulation totaled more than 9.9 million books last year," the printed statement reads.

Officials managing the library program also shipped more than 250 "playaway" kits containing paperbacks and periodicals to deployed locations. Additionally, libraries support deployed Learning Resource Centers and provide deployed members opportunities to record themselves reading stories aloud to send home to their children and, in some cases, have dedicated phone lines for morale calls.

"(MWR programs) foster a sense of community in every environment, from home station to contingencies and deployed locations," Mr. Myers' statement reads. "We take care of people, every minute of every day... and we proudly maintain the human warfighting machine."