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Town hall meeting tackles joint basing concerns
Col. Michael Hornitschek, 62nd Airlift Wing vice commander, left, and Col. Cynthia Murphy, Fort Lewis Garrison commander, field questions during the March 12 non-appropriated fund town hall forum. (U.S. Army photo/Rich Bartell)
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Town hall meeting tackles joint basing concerns

Posted 3/20/2009   Updated 3/20/2009 Email story   Print story


by Rich Bartell
Fort Lewis Public Affairs

3/20/2009 - FORT LEWIS, Wash. -- For many Air Force and Army employees, the upcoming Joint Base Lewis-McChord represents a time of transition and it provokes a lot of questions like, "what's going to happen to my job and the benefits I've earned?" 

On March 12, the Joint Integration Office held two non-appropriated fund town hall meetings at the American Lake Club on Fort Lewis to answer some of those questions.

"I was kind of scared when I first heard about how joint basing would affect McChord NAF," said Bonnie Scannell, 62nd Force Support Squadron, a 33-year Air Force NAF employee.

"Change is difficult and dealing with the unknown is a challenge," said Ms. Scannell, an administrative assistant at McChord's Arts and Crafts center.

The town hall sessions provided in-depth benefits information and transitioning to the Army NAF system. Commands from both Fort Lewis and McChord were represented with JIO director Greta Powell.

Ron Courtney, Department of the Army NAF Benefit chief, from Washington, D.C., was key speaker at the town hall forum. He says joint basing is a challenge and also improves job opportunities.

"Joint basing can be a very positive thing. In fact there will be a lot of career advancement. We're making sure that folks can transfer their benefits and carry them forward," said Mr. Courtney.

Mr. Courtney had words of encouragement to NAF workers who are transferring to the Army system.

"We want everyone in the NAF system to know that when it comes to benefits, we will take excellent care of you."

All McChord's NAF employees will become Army NAF employees.

According to Bill Harvey, director of Fort Lewis Morale, Welfare and Recreation, integrating nearly 300 new employees into his organization is a priority.

"We are going to merge organizations into one, in a seamless way and we're committed to taking care of each individual employee," said Mr. Harvey.

He added that no lay-offs are planned and no one would lose pay or benefits. He said that only minor changes in job titles would occur.

"For the most part, employees will be doing the same job," said Mr. Harvey.

Gloria Rodgers is a career NAF worker with more than 35 years in the system. Ms. Rodgers views the consolidation of McChord and Fort Lewis NAF workers as a good occurrence.

"We welcome our Air Force counterparts with open arms and I believe they are getting all of the information they need to make their transition to the Army NAF system," said Ms. Rodgers.

She had visited her NAF counterparts on McChord in order to get acquainted and share information with them.

"I believe we are friends and can work together as a well rounded team," said Ms. Rodgers.

For Ms. Scannell, some of her fears have been curbed.

"The forum answered many of the benefit and retirement questions. Mr. Courtney provided excellent information. I was surprised that there were differences in the two systems, but I'm on board for the Army," said Ms. Scannell.

Ms. Scannell said she enjoyed her job and was dedicated to her military customers.

"We want to continue to provide a high level of services to our customers because they deserve it," she said.

The Army will manage and provide base support services when Joint Base Lewis-McChord begins operation on Jan. 31, 2010. JBLM will have an Army base commander and an Air Force deputy commander.

A video version of the meeting is available on the internal Lewis-McChord Joint Basing Web site at

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