04/15/18 — Adopt an airman

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Adopt an airman

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 15, 2018 3:05 AM

The biggest sacrifice that an American makes is to serve their country, Wayne County Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Committee Chairman Dr. Scott LaFevers said.

"Our duty as community members is to ensure that our military members have the support right here at home in all capacities so that they can focus on being the strongest military force that this country has ever seen," LaFevers said during Thursday night's fifth annual Friends of Seymour Johnson AFB Gala.

"I have had many conversations with community members who want to know how to get involved and show their support. I feel that everyone being here tonight is a great testament of this community's commitment to our military and what they do to keep us safe."

One way to be involved is a new program that 4th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Christopher Sage has launched called the Adopt an Airman Program, he told the more than 250 who attended the event held at the Maxwell Center.

The program is designed to provide airmen with an avenue to form new friendships in the community and to gather support beyond the formal work environment, LaFevers said.

Host families are asked to provide a home-away-from-home during an airman's first years at Seymour Johnson AFB.

They serve as the airman's mentor, friend and advisor by providing a caring environment to relax, away from the pressures of work and future deployments, LaFevers said.

The 4th Fighter Wing Commander's Action Group office will match host families with airmen who share the same basic interests and characteristics, whether it be sports, outdoor events, religion and other activities with which they identify.

Airmen can request host families "by name," and families may do the same for airmen.

For more information on the Adopt an Airman Program, contact the Chamber, LaFevers said.

The city of Goldsboro and Wayne County have played a significant role in the efforts of Friends of Seymour Johnson, LaFevers said.

"We can all take pride in the efforts the county and the city have taken together to help ensure that Seymour Johnson AFB remains the crown jewel of the Air Force.

"We all should be proud of the work that the Wayne County Chamber does throughout the year to support and encourage growth in our community."

The attendance is an indication of how honored and privileged the community is to have the men and women of Seymour Johnson here as the community works to ensure a strong and bright future, LaFevers said.

The Military Affairs Committee has for many years led the effort with local officials to ensure that our community is a superior host to the base, he said.

"However, in today's environment we continue to realize the need to make sure that we have a voice both within our state and on the federal level," he said.

In 2017, the Military Affairs Committee and Friends of Seymour participated in various opportunities of support for the base, he said.

They included meetings with U.S. legislators, strategic planning meetings, military briefings, as well as defense community meetings, multiple ceremonies with base commanders and observation of Razor Talon demonstrations.

"The catalyst that has allowed us to stay proactive, is everyone's contribution not only with money, but just as important, your time," he said. "Your contributions have enabled us to stay focused and to be aware of any threats before they become issues.

"We need to be prepared for future opportunities and what's next for the Air Force and how Seymour Johnson fits in that equation."

The community has to keep its eyes and ears open in Washington, D.C., and in North Carolina, he said.

It's important, too, that it continues to get expert help from consultants with the Roosevelt Group so it can provide ongoing knowledge and advice on topics to help the county stay ahead of the curve, LaFevers said.

On the state level, Wayne County has been represented with the N.C. Military Affairs commission by Mayor Chuck Allen, Jeremiah Daniels and Julie Daniels.

"From local government, to local leaders and business supporters and concerned citizens such as yourself, we have joined together to help our community thrive and continue to host the greatest fighter wing on planet earth," he said.

At the helm of the Friends of Seymour has been Chairman Jimmie Edmundson who facilitated communication with all partners, LaFevers said.

"We thank him for his time and commitment to this incredible effort," LaFevers said. "Jimmie has had a whirlwind few months undergoing a serious medical procedure and with the support of his wife, Donna, he is with us tonight and we are so grateful.

"Thank you, Jimmie. While Jimmie was focusing on regaining his health, the steadfast leadership of Henry Smith continued to carry the torch of the Friends of Seymour Johnson AFB efforts."