By 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 31 Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 26, 2019
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Daniel Lasica, 31st Fighter Wing commander, held a town hall here, Aug. 15, 2018.
The town hall series provides a venue for updating the community on quality-of-life improvements and for leadership to hear suggestions and feedback from the community.
Q: Can you talk about the transition of gas coupon to gas card program status?
A: The NATO Forces Fuel Card program has arrived in Italy. Tax-free fuel privileges are changing from the coupon system to a card-based program. AGIP (Italian Gas Company) drove this program due to excessive cost of processing coupons. You will still use your gas coupons through December 31, 2018. The NATO Forces Fuel Cards will be active January 1, 2019. If you use your Fuel Card before January 1, you will be charged the full rate plus tax for any fuel purchased. After January 1, you can return your unused coupons to AAFES Customer Service for a refund.
Information about how the program works, frequently asked questions and answers, and videos on how to use your card at fuel stations is available on the Aviano App and at the NATO Forces Fuel Card website https://spark.adobe.com/page/3Fs3k5LnB7d5o/
Q: The DFAC ran out of food half-way through lunch making us Airmen on meal cards spend money on buying food at the commissary.
A: This is not typical and definitely not okay. The DFAC is available for Airmen who need it and we will continue to improve our capability to provide outstanding food options for our customers. On November 1, 2018, we brought brunch to the La Dolce Vita on Saturday and Sunday; the DFAC is now open all morning from 6 a.m. - 1 p.m. Airmen no longer have to eat breakfast between 6 – 8 a.m. on the weekends.
Based on your requests, the weekend brunch option is also open to dependents on a trial basis through January 2019 to see if they have an interest in DFAC brunch as well.
Q: Are there any considerations for food trucks on base, specifically the north side?
A: Yes, based on your requests, we are currently working to bring food options to the North side of the base around March 2019. We previously had a food truck on the flight line side of the base, but it was discontinued due to lack of customer support. To help ensure the success of this new endeavor, we are carefully surveying our customers desire to ensure we bring the right food options. We will provide updates as we move through the process.
Q: The lack of a midnight meal is a problem for those on shifts, could the DFAC open for midnight meals?
A: The DFAC’s mission is to provide support to our Airmen who live in the dorms. Unfortunately, there is no midnight meal because it was not used regularly enough to keep fiscally sustainable. However, there are options for boxed meals. Additionally, with appropriate justification, squadron commanders can submit BAS forms for their Airman who may need midnight meals and supervisors can request BAS for certain shifts.
Q: Midnight chow solution: – grab and go at the commissary?
A: This a great idea and we’ve tried to make this work in the past, but it wasn’t used enough to keep it sustainable. The commissary now opens at 7 a.m. to help the shift workers. We’ll keep taking a look at different options as well as revisit past ideas to see if they may work now.
Based on your feedback, a test run by AAFES was completed this fall. The Area F Shoppette has permanently extended business hours. The new hours are Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Home Internet Liaison:
Q: Would the base consider developing an internet liaison program; similar to Home Fuels where Airmen could get help with installation, trouble tickets and payment of home internet services?
A: This was a great idea and we reviewed the possibility of a liaison program similar to our Home Fuels program. Unlike the Home Fuels Program which offers a large tax savings to offset the monthly program costs (currently $9 per month each for gas and electricity), members assigned to Aviano AB are not entitled to tax-free Internet service. Program costs would far outweigh the benefits of such a program. Finding the right Internet provider can be a challenge and we agree that information can be provided to make the decision process easier. We will explore adding a Mobile Phone/Internet Tab to the Aviano First 31 PCS & Welcome Site with useful information to help make the selection process easier. It will include information on the current AAFES concessionaire in the BX who can provide Internet service from three different providers.
Pass and Registration:
Q: What is the most common reason for turning people away from pass and registration?
A: People are turned away mostly due to being misinformed or confused about the process. We understand this frustration and are attempting to streamline and simplify the process with a new online system. The new process requires less appointments and the online sign-up guarantees you have all required documentation prior to showing up for your appointment. For new arrivals, we are briefing the new process and providing streamlined information at Right Start and have had positive feedback about the new process.
Home Fuels Program:
Q: If my bill from Home Fuels is $0 why am paying the administrative fee each month?
A: The Home Fuels Program offers tax-free utilities which results in a large tax savings for our customers. For this service, customers are charged a monthly fee (currently $9 each for gas and electricity) to cover the costs associated with running the program. Costs include payroll, supplies, program software, and credit card fees. Applying a monthly fee to the customer versus a higher fee per bill received ensures a steady offset for these costs. Additionally, the Home Fuels staff is working on ensuring all members receive bills monthly rather than the bi-monthly billing practiced by most Italian companies.
Q: What are the options for bringing children to the fitness centers? The processes keep changing.
A: The Parent-Child Area was renovated a little over a year ago to accommodate more children with a safe amount of space. During the school year, the Parent-Child Area worked well but some problems surfaced over the summer when school let out. The safety of our children and participants is paramount and children cannot be in the weight room or cardiovascular areas for safety reasons. Based on your feedback, we created child-friendly classes where parents sign a contract to observe their child while working out. There are currently seven child-friendly classes, five days per week. If more classes are needed, based on feedback, we will try to make that happen. Please note that parents may have interactive workouts with their children ages 6-15 at our basketball court, racquetball courts, or on the track. Children ages 13-15 may utilize all areas of the gym as long as they are participating in an interactive exercise with an adult. However, the key word is interactive and the children must participate in the activity with a qualified adult in some way. Children aged 16 and older do not need an adult and may utilize all areas of the Fitness Centers.
Q: If I have a three and seven-year-old what are my options for working out?
A: The Parent-Child Area is six-year-olds and under. We have seven Child-Friendly classes that are offered five days per week for parents who have children over the age of six. We are open to adding more, if feedback supports the need. Due to safety concerns we had to be more stringent with age requirements as children were not well supervised in general fitness areas or the Parent-Child Area. This was the reason we created the Child-Friendly classes. There is a Facebook group called "Aviano's Fit with Kids" where parents come together to discuss exercise options for their children. Please use our ICE comment system to make your concers heard if your needs are not being met by our programs.
Q: At the Wyvern Gym, the Alpha Warrior rig is in the middle and in the way. The cross-fit classes are growing. Can we see about moving the Alpha rig to the side?
A: The Battle Station in the Wyvern was moved away from the Cross Functional equipment in October 2018 to give more room for Cross-Fit classes per your feedback.
TLF and TLA:
Q: Any chance of a change to TLA of 30 days and submitting TLF every 10 days with the housing shortage?
A: We understand this concern. Not one TLA extension has been denied in the last six months for this reason. We want you to get settled and understand there are circumstances and challenges that may require more time. To help ease some of the burden on filing paperwork, we have increased the 10-day increments to 15 days, based on your feedback. This change decreases the number of times you have to visit the housing office to file for TLA reimbursement from three down to two over the 30 day period. This increase in TLA days per period will also decrease the paperwork load for your housing counselors allowing more time for customer interaction as well as shorten wait periods.
LVIS Gate Hours:
Q: Is it possible to have back the LVIS gate hours for exiting resumed?
A: Amending the LVIS gate hours for exiting the base is currently being worked. Security protocols for the base are being reviewed to accommodate the outbound access. We will open it back up soon, once we are able to fully coordinate with ITAF and ensure installation access control and traffic flow are de-conflicted.
School Traffic Problems:
Q: Traffic issue at school in Area 1. Consider how to make travel better for parents dropping off children.
A: We know the traffic at and to the school can be an issue at times. Although we have observed instances of heavy traffic since the first day of school, these occurrences were mostly due to instances of bad weather, emergency responses and other circumstances outside of normal control. That said, we continue to review our process and traffic patterns, and welcome any ideas that parents may have via the ICE system. Additionally, we have a long term plan to modify the gate in Area 1. We are currently in a design phase and anticipate construction in Fiscal Year 2021.
Isolation and Community Issues:
Q: Isolation problems occur with families due to the geographic separation and no community housing, how are those problems being addressed? Are there ways to get the community information before renting a home? Such as finding where people live who have the same age kids or from the same squadron.
A: We’ve been looking at the challenge. We try really hard to get information about community events to our community. ITT is now online so people can coordinate activities from home instead of coming into base. We already have large events per year on base and will continue to increase activities at those events. Wyvern Square is our community--our event center. Our goal is to create this community feel more often in the Wyvern Square.
“Make Wyvern Square Great Again” - Mission, Family, Airmen are our priorities – finding that balance is constantly on our minds. We may look into establishing a lead person/family in every community to bring people in and connect with Americans and Italians. Try to strengthen our little circles that are spread apart – we want people to come back to base as well, more to follow on this improvement effort.
Q: Looking at different opportunities to get people information before they even get to Aviano. Things like multimedia, webinars, etc. getting information in the hands of families before they get here.
A: The First 31 Website was created for that purpose. About six months out you get orders overseas and we want to get you answers before you land in Italy since the stress isn’t over when you arrive. Newcomers say the website is working well and First 31 is continually improving. We need to fight the bad information that circulates on Facebook. It is not malicious on Facebook, but the PCS process continually improves and changes. Sponsors need to be kept up-to-date on changes and AFRC is there to support old and new sponsors. The Internet has made it easier, but we are always looking for new ideas. The comments/suggestions on First 31 go directly to the organization owners so they can adapt/improve their processes based on your feedback.
Q: Is anything being done to open up spouse employment off base?
A: We are currently working with the U.S. Embassy for a positive way forward, more information to follow soon.
Q: Any plans to have 24/7 hour language translation at Italian hospital?
A: There has not been a demand at the ER for 24-hour translation services that would keep the program financially sustainable. Translation services provided by the Medical Group have extended their hours, but the demand for 24/7 language translation is not there. Current translation hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. If you are go to the ER after hours, call the Command Post, or use the Aviano App, select the “emergency button” and select “Int’l S.O.S. Translator.” We understand this is not the easiest, especially in the middle of an emergency situation, but please remember this will help you get ahold of a translator. Please be aware that Italian medics will act and treat accordingly whether or not a liaison is present. Physician liaisons are on call 24/7 to act in the absence of a patient liaison.
We are trying to get improved English signage in the hospitals. We suggest everyone go visit the hospital when it is not an emergency so that they are familiar with the entrances, parking, and areas of care. We submitted a funding request in October 2018, based on your feedback, to add three positions that would allow us to provide weekend in-person translation services. 17% of our ER demand occurs during this time. Less than two percent of our patients visit the ER from 11 p.m. – 7 a.m. each week, so we will not pursue in-person service during these hours. Telephone translation services via International SOS are still option during this time.
Q: Last year there was an incident at Pordenone hospital, I contacted different organizations and international SOS said they would follow up with me regarding my feedback. I never heard back. Should there be a notification about complaints being resolved?
A: Any and all ICE comments are followed up by the Medical Group’s patient advocate or a higher level, if necessary, provided the patient listed contact information. International SOS does not always follow-up on submissions. If they do, they only give the Medical Group limited information on patient issues. If patients relay information via ICE or by calling the patient advocate, all concerns will be addressed.
Q: What are the EDIS playground operating hours?
A: There has been an expansion to the EDIS playground operating hours based on your feedback. Operating hours are now Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The EDIS playground is located on Area 1 behind building 103.