SAI brings adventure, boosts morale for Airmen

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kyla Gifford
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
Packing up all your belongings, saying good-bye to family and friends and moving to a new state or country is a process that most Airmen will endure throughout their Air Force career. For unaccompanied Airmen, uprooting your life and going through the stresses of a permanent change of station can be a lonely experience. Not only being new to base, but also to the local community it can be daunting.

Fortunately, the Vandenberg Outdoor Recreation offers Airmen the opportunity to explore the area and meet new people on a regular basis -- a program known as Single Airman Initiative.

"Single Airman Initiative is an Air Force-wide program that is designed to help Airmen adjust to a new environment," said Veronica Wiens, 30th Force Support Squadron SAI coordinator.

Wiens has been dedicated to SAI for two years now, and is the brains behind the operation.

"I think of possible activities, research them and then submit a package to get the funds approved for each program," said Wiens. "Each base is allotted a certain amount of money based on the installations size. Outdoor Recreation takes a set amount of funding and we try to do fun activities with it."

Sky diving, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, white water rafting, ATV, horseback riding, zip lining and paragliding are just some of the events that were featured in the past year.

"We charge about 10 percent the original cost of the event, which is more of an incentive to go," said Wiens. "I try to keep every event within a two hour radius, so you can get out there and see what the local community has to offer."

Recently SAI offered skydiving to Airmen. It was a highly popular event, with spots filling up immediately.

"I was enlivened when I found out that Outdoor Recreation had an event set up for sky diving," said Airman 1st Class Jerzees Fernandez, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron electrical system journeyman. "When I finally jumped, adrenaline started coursing through my body and my heart was beating really fast, but the view was stunning. It was such a thrilling experience." 

SAI prepares at least one activity for Airmen each month, and round-trip transportation is provided if needed.

"I love this program," said Fernandez. "It gives us an opportunity to go out and try new things. It's not always easy as an Airman to research and plan ourselves. With the help of this program, activities are there for us to just sign up and try out. This is a great program to boost morale and recuperate the mind from stress."

SAI is for single Airmen, to get them out of the dorms and boost their morale. If not enough people signed up for an activity, however second priority goes to single Airmen E-5 and above; and if there are still openings it's offered to all active duty regardless of rank or marital status.

"I just try to get Airmen out there to learn what's available for them and to help them possibly find a passion or a hobby," said Wiens. "I love what I do. I like putting events together, and I like seeing the response and the mad rush to come sign up for something that may be really exciting to Airmen."

For more information, please contact Outdoor Recreation at 606-5908.