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Keesler Dragon Chat named ‘AETC Best Practice’

Graphic for Wingman Day. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Capt. David Murphy)

Graphic for Wingman Day. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Capt. David Murphy)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Keesler’s initiative that encourages offices to take time each month to discuss important topics, dubbed ‘Dragon Chats’, was named a best practice by the Air Education and Training Command’s inspector general following a unit effectiveness inspection in September.

Dragon Chats are small core discussion groups that incorporate a way for all Airmen to connect with one another, support the Air Force mission, heritage, and Air Force core values. The intent is to improve how well Airmen get to know one another as individuals and team members.

 “While the goal is to establish connections and a sense of belonging the intent is to link small core groups directly to Wingman Day,” said Liz Waters, 81st Training Wing resilience and community support coordinator. “Discussion groups incorporate all unit-level members including officers, enlisted and civilians thus encompassing the Airman concept.” 

For one hour on a monthly basis, these informal, yet guided groups aim to bring together fewer than 15 individuals to ensure everyone has an opportunity to hear and be heard.

The topics of discussion are not dictated from leadership, but decided upon by the facilitators at the lowest levels. This ensures that each unit is able to tailor their Dragon Chat to their current needs and desired outcomes.

“We can facilitate in our own ways with elaborating on the questions, guiding conversation and asking people for their personal opinions on the subject.” said Airman 1st Class Jazay Martin, 81st Comptroller Squadron information manager and dragon chat attendee.

Ultimately, Keesler hopes to build more resilient Airmen with this program said Waters.

According to the Air Force Comprehensive Airman Fitness Program, resiliency is someone’s ability to bounce back. It is their ability to recover from a crisis, or from the stressors of life. The Air Force breaks resiliency down into four pillars: mental, physical, social and spiritual. In order to be resilient, Airmen should try to achieve balance in all four pillars.

“Wingman Day and Core Groups are inextricably linked,” said Waters. “Both approaches are designed to enhance the resiliency of individuals, families, and communities in an effort to sustain their ability to carry out the Air Force mission.”

The initiative has uncovered the many diverse backgrounds of each individual in the discussion groups and, overall, improved how they work together every day.

“Dragon Chats have benefited my work life as in I can understand my coworkers thought processes a little better concerning certain topics and become more acquainted with coworkers I don’t get to interact with daily,” said Martin. “I enjoy the opportunity to relax and occasionally laugh as we learn other people’s opinions and backgrounds – it helps in giving us perspective on not only topics but individuals as well.”