Community Relations educates public on Vandenberg’s mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shane M. Phipps
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
This is part four of a four part series on jobs critical to supporting launch operations.

Helping achieve successful, polar-orbital launches is a responsibility entrusted not only to launch operators, but a variety of supporting organizations as well.

One such section is community relations within the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs office.

"It is critical for the public to understand how and why we launch missions for VAFB," said Larry Hill, 30th SW PA chief of community relations. "We aim to host groups of people, on base, to view the launch. Our primary audience consists of members from our local and regional communities. We want them to see the professionalism of Team-V, as well as understand our focus on public safety during launch operations."

By inviting groups on base, Hill can give community members a unique look at the men and women behind the scenes.

"Bringing members of the community on base during launch operations helps demonstrate Air Force professionalism and communicates our responsible use of resources," said Hill. "It's important for the public to see from the 'inside' exactly what we do here and how we do it. It fosters their trust in us."

With launches being a common occurrence at VAFB, Hill understands the significance of proper community involvement.

"We usually have more than 200 visitors join us to view the launch," explained Hill. "As ComRel chief, I must provide a safe, significant and enjoyable experience for these individuals. All that attend can see firsthand what the 30th SW does during launch operations so they can then share that experience with their respective associates. This is our opportunity to engage the public in a positive manner."

Although VAFB's current rapport with the local communities is strong, preserving resilient connections and understandings is essential.

"We are fortunate here to have great relationships with the local communities," said Hill. "However, failure to maintain and care for those relationships would have a negative impact on our ability to operate. Our ComRel program must rely on local stakeholders to share our message of launch safety, fiscal responsibility and environmental stewardship with the greater community."

Hill's hard-work and dedication doesn't go unnoticed by those around him, including his leadership.

"Good Community Relations is vital to any organization, but especially for VAFB during launch time," said Robin Jackson, 30th SW chief of Public Affairs. "Larry has done a great job helping the local community better understand the inner-workings of the launch business, as well as the dedicated Airmen, here at the wing, who make it all happen."