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Vandenberg says goodbye certain perks to support GWOT

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Ask any Airmen when a year begins, and you will likely hear Jan. 1. If you ask an Airman who works in contracting or finance, be prepared for a different answer.

"Oct. 1 is the beginning of the fiscal year, which is a 12-month period that the Air Force plans the use of its funds so money can be allocated for government contracts," said Airman Melissa Egeland, a 30th Space Wing Contracting Squadron contracting specialist.

This fiscal year, recent decisions by the Air Force, make it so Vandenberg will see many changes that will affect the way Airmen live.

"The Air Force is absolutely committed to things like family housing, dormitories, fitness centers, the look of the base -- those are all quality-of-life things," Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney McKinley said. "But sometimes we get used to things we think are quality of life, but they're really just perks we can't afford anymore."

By eliminating perks like midnight chow, towels at the gym and contracted cleaning, each Air Force base has the opportunity to save thousands of dollars that can be used to help win the war on terrorism, he said.

Although the new budget restraints will bring changes to Team V, they will not prevent mission accomplishment.

Breakers dining facility, which was chosen by Hennessey as the best dining facility in the Air Force, is an example of this resilience.

"Although we no longer will be serving hot meals at midnight, we will still be meeting the needs of Airmen through our grab and go menu," said Willie Belton, a 30th Services Division food service officer.

The resilient spirit isn't unique to the dining facility, as the fitness center will no longer hand out towels to Airmen.

"Every year we buy around 3,000 towels a year at around $5 a towel," said Tom Anastasio, a 30th Services Division sports fitness aid. "If you include the wash cloths, that's around $17,000 a year, not considering laundering."

The center realizes that the change will take some time for adjustment.

"During the transition period, the fitness center will sell towels for $2," Mr. Anastasio said.

The new budget cuts also call for a reduced custodial contract, Airmen will pick up the slack by picking up after them.

"By reducing the custodial contract, Vandenberg is expected to save $1.7 million in fiscal year 2008," said 1st Lt. Donnie Horn, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron chief of maintenance engineering.

"Budget cuts are happening throughout the Air Force. At several bases, like F.E. Warren and Grand Forks, they have also decided to cut their custodial contracts in this fashion," Lieutenant Horn said.

The cuts shouldn't be viewed as the beginning of the end, but as a way to financially increase war efforts by taking care of small things on the home front.

What new responsibilities do Airmen face after the budget cuts?

"Facility occupants will be responsible for emptying office and common area trash cans and recycling bins, vacuuming and cleaning of carpeted and uncarpeted floors, and general office cleaning such as dusting and trash pickup."

As Airmen adapt to the changes that the new fiscal year brings, they will continue to focus on the mission of Vandenberg, to defend the United States through exceptional launch, range, expeditionary, and installation operations.