Community Relations - Building Public Trust and Support Published May 14, 2008 By Capt. Gary Bentley 180th Fighter Wing June 2008 -- We are all fortunate to serve in the military today, especially in a location that clearly supports our presence in the community. This is evidenced in many ways, probably the most visible being the "Save the 180th" campaign that took place during the BRAC process in 2005. But there are other ways in which we are supported by the community and ways in which we support the community. Our Recruiters, including GRAP members, support these objectives by being visible in the community and by participating in various public events. Also, our Base Honor Guard adds value to these objectives by their service in and around the community. The truth is that each of us can provide support to these objectives by simply being a good neighbor and community supporter, especially when in uniform. I received a call recently from one of our neighbors who lives on Salisbury Road. She first told me how much she supports the military and has great pride seeing our jets flying overhead. She also talked about how friendly and polite our members are, as many of them jog down her road on a daily basis. But she also asked that our unit members slow down and drive carefully on Salisbury. She was concerned for the safety of her child who waits for the school bus by the road every morning, and for the safety of the other children who live on the road. She said she knew that it's not only 180th members on the road in the morning but she did recognize that many drivers were 180th members because she could see their uniform. This is just one example where we can be recognized as a military member without realizing it. So, please - be a good neighbor and slow down on Salisbury and other residential roadways. We constantly receive many calls and letters seeking 180th members' participation in all kinds of community events. These include parades, special observances, flyovers, speakers, races and a multitude of others. I am aware that many of our members participate in various community events and have done an admirable job of representing our unit. Numerous unit members also participate in various "unofficial" events that may involve potential recognition awards tied to community involvement. We need to ensure such involvement is officially documented. Please contact me with details of any community involvement that relates to your military membership. There are three upcoming community events for which volunteers are needed. The first event is the Toledo Memorial Day Parade taking place in downtown Toledo, May 24. Col. Bartman will be serving as the main speaker and Grand Marshal. The Navy, Army and Coast Guard will also have members designated as Grand Marshals. If you are interested in participating in the parade, contact your full-time Orderly Room representative or call me for additional information. I should have the final information by the time you read this article. The parade will be a fun and patriotic event for you and your family. The second community event is the placement of flags on the graves of veterans at Woodlawn Cemetery May 23. This has become an annual event for many 180th members, and involves placing about 5,000 flags. This is a great opportunity for unit members and families to participate in a very worthy event. Please contact Master Sgt. Joy Chittum at 419-868-4023 to sign-up and receive additional information. The third community event will be the Dragon Boat Festival scheduled for July 26 at International Park in Toledo. This event is tied to Partners in Education, an organization that works with over 140 school-community partnerships with over 1,200 volunteers, in the Toledo area public and parochial schools. The event includes teams of 25 individuals who participate in races on the river in dragon boats. Each team of 25 must have at least eight females. We are currently recruiting unit members, male and female, who would be willing to paddle the 180th dragon boat at the event. There will be family activities at the festival, so it would be a great way for your entire family to participate. We also receive many requests for speakers from Rotary Clubs, VFW Posts, American Legion, Schools, etc. I am developing a list of unit members who would be willing to volunteer time to serve as a speaker. We do have a PowerPoint unit brief to be used at most of these speaking engagements. If you are interested in volunteering to become a speaker, please give me a call. I can be reached at 419-868- 4380. I thank every one of you for your service to our country, our state and our communities.